JEFFERSON, S.D. (KCAU) – According to the American Trucking Association, if the national trucking shortage isn’t attended to soon, the United States could be short of more than 160,000 truckers by 2028.
“When you think back to the start of the pandemic when those shelves were empty for a time, the industry, not the trucking industry necessarily, but just the country as a whole was not ready for the supply chain to keep up, but the truckers kept rolling,” American Institute of Trucking representative Steve Olson said.
David Carrino has been truck driving for eight years. He said the national truck driver shortage impacts his daily operations.
“When other people kind of got turned away from the jobs, kind of had to stay home, we kind of kept going. We really couldn’t stop because the supply didn’t go any shorter, it kind of got greater. We just kind of had to keep going, that means more hours, longer days, longer weeks,” local truck driver David Carrino said.
An American Institute of Trucking representative outlines what is making the current shortage persist.
“One of the biggest factors is an aging workforce, I mean as our, as you see the truck drivers go by today, you can see the average age is getting up there and approaching retirement age, and we’re not getting enough drivers into the industry at a quick enough pace to fill the void of those that are retiring,” said Olson.
And Olson said hiring new truck drivers isn’t as easy as it seems.
“What is unique about the trucking industry is you can’t go into trucking right out of high school. You can go into intrastate, so you can drive a commercial truck within your own state, but you can’t cross state lines until you’re 21. And so as a result, a lot of kids coming out of school seek other occupations and it’s hard to get them converted over to trucking,” said Olson.
Olson also said the end of the trucking shortage comes down to the need for more recruiting.
“This trucker shortage is not new, and it’s not going to go away tomorrow. Autonomous vehicles in some ways may help alleviate, in some situations, but it’s not the end solution,” said Olson.
“My fiancé, she definitely wants me home a lot more often but, you got to do what you got to do because of the trucking shortage and with all, everything has been kind of short lately so, we kind of have to be there,” said Carrino.
Carrino said he currently drives anywhere between 10 and 12 hours a day, with the busiest days resulting in him driving for more than 15 hours.