Seeing higer prices? Truck driver shortage may be to blame

May 29, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A top Tennessee Trucking Executive says if you’ve noticed prices rising at the store, you can lay part of the blame on a shortage of truck drivers.

Tennessee Trucking Association Chairman Waylon Thompson says the driver shortage is a problem because 85 percent of what you buy moves by truck. He says the industry is short 50,000 drivers now, a number he believes will double in just three years as older truckers retire.

An Uber experimental self-driving truck on the road.
Credit uber.com

“There’s loads from our customers every day that we have to turn back we just don’t have enough truck, we don’t have enough drivers to put in the trucks.”

Thompson says trucking companies are having trouble recruiting younger drivers. He says part of the problem is that you can’t get a license to drive a big rig right out of high school.

Self-driving trucks could solve the problem, but his association isn’t ready to make that leap.

“We’re gonna sit on the sidelines on that one till we see what happens, cause that’s a big liability with 80,000 pounds on a truck and trailer.”

Trucking industry analyst Lee Clair agrees undelivered loads are pushing prices higher, but he says a driver shortage isn’t the real problem. He believes bottlenecks in the delivery system are to blame.

“Shippers typically load in the morning and unload in the late afternoon. Any truck showing up to deliver that’s not in that time window then sits and waits for its delivery time.”

Clair also notes that with the economy booming, trucking companies are competing with the construction and manufacturing industries for employees.

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