ORLANDO, Fla. – According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the shortage of truck drivers is causing a domino effect on manufacturers, consumers and corporations across the country.
“At some point, we may start going to grocery stores and we’re used to seeing, I don’t know, 7 different variety of apples in there and now there’s only 3 because of the truck driver shortage,” Bob Costello, chief economist with the American Truckers Associations, said. “Whenever you have a situation where demand outstrips supply what happens to price? It goes up; same thing is happening with truck drivers.”
A 2019 analysis by the American Trucking Associations indicated the United States is currently in need of more than 60,000 truck drivers. If the trend continues, it could see a shortage of 160 thousand truck drivers by 2028.
“We have a high average age for current truck drivers pushing 50 years old,” Costello said. “Because you can’t drive interstate freight until you’re at least 21. So, what you find is: if you go to a truck driving training school people are in their 30s when they’re getting trained, so it pushes up the average age. We have high retirements, that’s an issue.”
Goodwill of Central Florida is among the companies short on truck drivers.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a lot of transportation needs that go up; especially here in the southeastern United States,” Albert Robinson, director of logistics for Goodwill of Central Florida, said. “We’re trying to backfill those positions as quickly as possible unfortunate thing is you’re not getting as much foot traffic coming in to fill those applications as you were several years ago.”
And just as the company is struggling to find drivers, their job connection center is also feeling the demand by corporations in need of truck drivers.
“Here locally, there’s been an increase of 20% shortage in the recent years. We’ve been receiving a lot of calls from employers that are in need of truck drivers,” Odalys Simmons, a manager with Goodwill Connection Center, said.
Costello said age and demographics are contributing issues. He said only 6% of drivers are female. Currently, the organization is working with Congress to lower the minimum age of 21 for truck drivers.
“We think that under the right amount of training, additional training than required today, that you could put an 18,19 or 20-year-old behind a truck,” Costello said.
And the global pandemic has also put a strain on the need.
“The pipeline of new drivers coming into the industry has been very limited over the last year because of social distancing requirements at truck driver training schools, department of motor vehicles have been closed or limited hours, so you can’t get people a new commercial driver’s license — that’s been a big issue,” he said. “And then one we’ve pushed for on a safety front has exacerbated a little bit over the last year and it’s the new drug and alcohol clearinghouse and that has pushed out some drivers that we didn’t want in the industry.”
The 2019 analysis by ATA also indicated over the next decade, the trucking industry will need to hire more than 1 million new drivers.