CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – We are currently in the midst of a shortage of qualified truck drivers nationwide and it is leaving many companies concerned for their future.
Some attribute this shortage to the aging drivers who are hanging up their keys and finally heading toward retirement.
While retirement should be something to celebrate, this shortage could lead to a major issue for the economy as the American Trucking Association (ATA) reports that 70 percent of all freight product moved in the U.S. is done on the road.
In order to keep up with the current demand, the ATA estimated that an average of 96,000 drivers will need to be hired nationally every year.
For Larry Vanderwal, a driver who has been on the roads for the past 27 years, he believes the industry could be in for an interesting ride as they attempt to fill experienced positions with new drivers.
“I think the industry is getting older, it’s harder to find drivers anymore” he says, “I don’t know what the deal is we just can’t find enough help anymore.”
However, the help they do find is coming in the form of young 20-something drivers fresh on the road like 6 month driver Ben Kubalak.
He says he has already seen a trend of folks stepping away from the business except he attributes the open positions to more than just old age.
“That winter was rough,” Kubalak says, “I could see that pushing a lot of people away from this job because you wouldn’t want a bad accident under your belt.”
Being away from family and friends is another reason folks decide to hang up their keys.
Spending a life on the road with the demanding hours the industry can bring is tough, and it’s something both Vanderwal and Kubalak say is not for everyone.
According to the ATA, shortage issues will continue to stick around for a few years as the association is estimating that as many as 240,000 drivers will need to be hired annually by the year 2022.