Trucking industry faces driver shortage

Updated: Feb. 15, 2018 at 7:15 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The trucking industry is the lifeline of the American economy, but over the last decade, the industry has had to deal with a shortage of drivers.

According to the American Trucking Association, more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the United States are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet that demand.

Gary Gobert, President, and Owner of Lake City Trucking said the trucking industry is struggling for several reasons.

"The driver force is not keeping up with the demand," Gobert said. "Everybody is in a hurry for everything and the consumers want their product right now. Trucks are the fastest way of getting there besides airplanes and it's the most economical way, that's what makes the demands higher."

Gobert said meeting the demand isn't a simple matter of just hiring more drivers either.

"The biggest problem for the shortage is that a Class A CDL driver can't really go to work until their 21 years old," Gobert said. "So between the time they graduate and 21 they more than likely have chosen a different career path."

Then there's the lifestyle that may scare away some from working as a driver.

Driving a truck includes extended periods of time away from home, fatigue and even sleep apnea.

"Drivers are figuring out you don't have to go out on the road to make a good living," Gobert said.

Gary Gobert said his company is looking for more ways to entice people to work as drivers.

"We have changed the way we operate and pay to entice drivers to come work with us," Gobert said. "It's just a daily struggle and it's for all companies. But everybody has to realize, when we pay drivers more, they're going to have to pay more for their products and it's a chain reaction."

According to the U-S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual salary for truck drivers was $41,340.

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