SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Across the country, the nation is short 80,000 truck drivers. The deficit affects livestock to television live trucks, to the disposal of trash, to the collection of internet treasures and more. The driver shortage has also exacerbated persistent supply chain issues.

In response, Tidewater Community College in Suffolk this weekend will launch an expansion of Commercial Driver’s License training for the next generation of truck drivers.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“We’re going to be able to serve a thousand students a year because of this expansion. We are delighted that we will have a weekend cohort. We will have a daytime cohort and this will really impact our area in a positive way,” said Tamara Williams, vice president of Workforce Solutions.

And, you might be surprised to see who is now behind the wheel more often. Across the country, more and more women are learning to drive 18-wheelers.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

29-year-old Vivian Williams, a former shipyard worker, has big plans for the trucking business.

“I’m planning on starting my own. I’m planning on an all-female trucking business. It’s not really much of us out here,” Vivian Williams said.

The 160 hours of training comes at a cost of $4,500 — but if you qualify, the state will pick up the tab.

(WAVY photo)

“They start off in the classroom. They will do some lectures and then they will go to the pad and do some pre-trip and back up and make sure they know all the aspects of how trucking works,” said Tamara Williams.

Vivian Williams has already contacted a lender and hopes to own four trucks in the next five years. She encourages other women to get behind the wheel.

“If I can do it, you can do it — that’s how I see it,” said Vivian Williams, who is looking forward to graduation in the next month.