NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – The famous saying by truckers is “you bought it, I brought it.” But those in the industry say there’s a shortage of drivers — a problem that needs to be addressed right away.
Watching trucks roll through Hubbard, it’s hard to believe there’s a driver shortage. But Zeke Haddle, with R&J Trucking, notices it every day. He could use a dozen drivers to drive between seven terminals around the state.
“Every company out there is suffering from lack of drivers to get their freight from point A to point B,” Haddle said.
If nothing changes soon, the American Trucking Association believes there will be more than 900,000 unfilled driving jobs within ten years.
“They have to have experience. Well, a lot of companies will take them, they’ll take them out on the road, they’ll keep ’em out there for two to three months without taking them home,” Haddle said. “Then by the time they come to us, they don’t want to do no road no more because they’re gun-shy.”
Still, companies are struggling to hire the next generation of drivers.
R&J Trucking spent $40,000 in advertising over the last three months, trying to fill seats.
“You hire two, you lose three because there’s always an open door at another company,” Haddle said.
Some Ohio lawmakers have noticed the big hole in the number of drivers and introduced four new bills Wednesday to encourage more to pursue the field.
The four bills would do the following:
- Create a $5 million scholarship and loan fund for students to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) at a truck driving school
- Make it possible for drivers aged 21-24 to be more easily insurable and for drivers 18-20 years old to be able to be insured so they can drive in-state
- Streamline those who were truck drivers in the military to CDL license conversion
- Provide $3 million in tax credits to trucking companies that develop on-the-job training programs
Truckers are in demand and the New Castle School of Trades is trying to supply it. Training to get a CDL license takes eight weeks and costs $6,000.
Ohio lawmakers are trying to push a scholarship and loan fund for trucking students.
“With the amount of hours that these programs are, they don’t qualify for federal aid. So enhancing scholarships and aid…there will be an uptick,” said Kinorea Tigri, with NCST.
There are hundreds of truck driver openings within the tri-county area.
The average trucker is 55 years old, according to the industry. Younger drivers would definitely be helpful, but their limits include insurance qualifications and not being allowed to drive in-state until age 21.
“Everybody wants to do local truck driving. Nobody wants to go over the road and it makes it tough to place people also,” said Bob Dean, with NCST.
While the state is taking the first steps to help solve the trucker shortage crisis, the measures still need approval from all state lawmakers.
As for NCST, it will keep using 17 tractor trailers to give students their first taste of truck driving.
“Since I’ve been here, since 2009, there’s never been an empty class, very popular. It’s a seven-week program that we keep full,” said.
On Indeed.com Wednesday afternoon, there were 753 truck driver job listings within 25 miles of Youngstown. Eighty-two percent of them paid over $40,000 a year and 97 percent were full-time positions.