The trucking industry is on the verge of a crisis as the struggle to find qualified drivers intensifies.
The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association says they’ve noticed the troubling trend and they’re doing everything they can to stop the bleeding. Rebecca Oyler, President and CEO of PA Motor Truck Association says that competitive labor markets, mixed with early retirements and a year away from training caused the major bubble.
“It really is becoming a problem in trucking and it was pre-existing, the shortage was pre-existing to the pandemic but the pandemic really made things worse for a couple of reasons,” said Oyler. “One, we didn’t have as much testing and education last year so if drivers weren’t getting their CDL licenses, so we had that going on at the same time drivers were leaving the industry because the average age of a commercial truck driver is 55 so a lot of them were at high risk and they left temporarily and maybe they didn’t come back right away. Those two things combined last year to really exacerbate the existing driver shortage.”
MRTA says that if the trend is not corrected it will and has to some extent already effect you the consumer.
“It’s absolutely an issue when you can’t find a truck driver to fill the seats and it does affect a lot of areas of our economy,” said Oyler. “I think it’s going to be significant at some point in time because of the truck driver shortage and the fact that some of these companies are having a difficult time finding drivers.”
Industry leaders say there is a lot of pressure in the Central PA trucking hub to correct the problem fast but so far signing bonuses, increased salaries and route changes to accommodate families have done little to stem the tide.
“I think it’s on the verge of a crisis. I think this is probably one of the worst times that we have seen for recruiting truck drivers,” said Oyler. “There is a lot of pressure and part of that is because the labor market is so tight there are a lot of folks who otherwise might go into truck driving that are finding opportunities elsewhere in construction for example.”