Truck Drivers in High Demand as Summer Travel Ramps Up
As the Colonial Pipeline gets back up to speed after a recent ransomware cyberattack, many gas stations are still facing fuel shortages nationwide. The sudden, sharp reduction of supply is already driving up fuel prices and the ongoing professional truck driver shortage can’t keep up with the simultaneous fuel scarcity and burgeoning demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there was a shortfall of 65,700 drivers for 2020, when compared to 2019. COVID-19 brought on a surge of early retirements for many of these drivers, and the trucking industry is struggling to make up for the shortfall.
National tank truck carriers estimate 25% of industry vehicles could sit idle this summer because there simply aren't enough drivers. "A lot of drivers were retiring early during COVID that were originally planning to retire in the next few years; additionally, schools were training less drivers due to social distancing So suddenly the supply shrunk, while demand grew.” – Brad Ball, President of Roadmaster Drivers School Roadmaster has opened more than 15 professional driver schools around the nation including in Arizona, with plans to open more locations by year-end to meet the growing demand. The training itself is relatively brief, about four weeks from beginning to end.
To make matters worse, as more people become vaccinated and want to resume travel plans this summer, and with the mask mandate recently lifted, the demand for gas is expected to grow exponentially this summer. The lack of drivers available to transport that additional fuel will likely cost consumers more at the pump.
“The motor freight industry is vital to the United States economy, and absolutely dependent on a steady supply of new and well-trained drivers. The industry is not looking for degrees. They’re looking for people with good sense, dependability, and the desire for a stable, well-paying job. We see it happening in real time. Carriers are clamoring for drivers and Roadmaster is getting calls daily from companies attempting to hire graduates.” – Brad Ball Ball notes that the demand for new drivers is such that students receive pre-hire letters before starting school and trucking firms offer up to 100% tuition reimbursement.
The demand is so high, that many companies are beginning to offer even more lucrative jobs and sign on bonuses to attract drivers, especially those rated to carry fuel. Experts say experienced tanker drivers can earn more than $100k annually.