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The Truck Driver shortage is squeezed further by Covid and Tech

The factors that shrink the Truck Driver numbers, when shopping and demands are going up
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As the supply chain strains under the restrictions of Covid, a truck driver shortage adds to the pressure we’re seeing.

As of 2018, the truck driver shortage nationwide was almost 61 thousand, and if the current trend holds, the shortage will be over 160 thousand drivers in 2028.

The Americans Trucking Association has identified the top factors that stop people from entering the trucking industry.

With a need to hire over 1 million drivers over the next decade, replacing retiring truck drivers will be one of the largest factors. Enticing younger people to the industry is next.

The current factor adding pressure to the industry growth is thanks to Covid and new tech.

Almost 70 percent of Wyoming relies solely on trucks for its goods.

“We saw that explode over the pandemic, with people ordering online and deliveries to peoples’ homes and changes on how other deliveries were made. So there’s been a change in the industry and that’s exacerbated the shortage.” said Sheila Foertsch, Managing Director of the Wyoming Truckers Association.

Another deterrent is the time spent away from home.

“The main thing is there’s no life for the driver. You have all the time stay at the truck,” said Gerbeer Singh, owner of Buttar Transport.

Attracting females and people of color to the industry remains a limitation and an untapped resource. Only 6.6 percent of the industry personnel are female.

And costs for commercial driver’s licenses or CDL can vary greatly, which some companies and schools are covering the costs of training to get more drivers in.

“Three of the community colleges are offering CDL courses in the state of Wyoming. That’s huge they’re recognizing that these are good jobs, there are jobs where there’s a need to fill those positions,” said Foertsch.

In Wyoming, there were also a lot of drivers lost when the energy sector took a downturn.

“A lot of our carriers are tied in with the extractive Energy Industry, so we were seeing impacts to carriers before the pandemic hit, because of the things that are happening in the coal industry and the oil and gas industry,” said Foertsch.

Autonomous vehicles and tech-based deliveries may also impact the industry if the driver shortage continues.

“Truck drivers are essential and if we want our goods delivered, we need to start paying attention to getting more people behind that wheel,” said Foertsch.

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