There’s a massive truck driver shortage in the U.S. and the problem is reportedly only going to get worse. One company in Texas is offering unheard of salary for drivers who sign on with them. Of course, you’ve got to have experience.
One of the reasons we’re seeing the current fuel crunch along the U.S. East Coast is because there aren’t trucks to transport all the fuel needed by consumers. KENS5 spoke to Jim Grundy, CEO and owner of Sisu Energy, the company looking to hire drivers at these rates. The company appears to mainly handle fuel:
When the pandemic hit many truckers left the industry because there wasn’t as much product to haul and the rates to transport products like gasoline tumbled. Now that demand is back up, but with fewer truckers to haul products like gasoline, a massive shortage is looming.
“And it’s not just going to be gasoline. It’s not going just going to be wood. You’re talking about all your retail goods just like clothing, food, toilet paper, you name it,” said Jim Grundy who is the CEO and owner of Sisu Energy.
He says the shortages aren’t going to only take place this summer, but well beyond that.
“That’s the narrative that you’re hearing,” he said. “That this thing is going to last anywhere from two to four years. And it could be longer because the population’s getting stronger.”
Unfortunately for those younger folks looking at getting into trucking, Grundy is only looking for experienced drivers, as insurance won’t touch anyone under 25 years old with less than two years of driving experience. Though American Trucking Association President and CEO Chris Spear told ABC7 News that his organization and over 100 others are pushing for change:
In an effort to help fix the truck driver shortage, ATA and more than 100 organizations are making a bipartisan push to lower the minimum legal age of truck drivers in interstate commerce from 21-years-old to 18-years-old. The legislation they are trying to move forward in Congress is called the “DRIVE Safe Act.”
“If we can train 18-year-olds to fight and protect our freedom abroad, I’m pretty certain we can train them to cross state lines in a Class A truck,” said Spear.
The numbers for trucking companies are pretty dire. According to the American Trucking Association, there was a shortage of 61,000 drivers at the end of 2019. Then the pandemic hit. Tuesday, Spear told the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee that the U.S. was reaching crisis levels. From their press release:
The trucking industry moves more than 72% of the nation’s freight tonnage, and over the next decade, trucks will be tasked with moving 2.4 billion more tons of freight than they do today. Breakdowns in our surface transportation infrastructure, as well as a severe and widening truck driver and diesel technician shortage, threaten the industry’s ability to keep goods moving safely and on time.
Freight bottlenecks and congestion on the National Highway System already cost the trucking industry an annual 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity, which is equivalent to more than 425,000 drivers sitting idle for an entire year — adding $75 billion to the cost of freight transportation. In addition, the industry currently faces a shortfall of nearly 61,000 drivers and will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to keep pace with economy’s increased freight demands.
We’re already seeing what it looks like when the supply chain breaks down in places like Atlanta, Georgia and Durham, North Carolina. So $14,000 may sound like a lot, but trucking requires brutally long hours and time spent from home away from family. I’ve never been a trucker, but it seems the physical, emotional and mental toll of a job that keeps America running merits the pay day.