America faces massive truck driver shortage

MILWAUKEE -- America needs more truck drivers! That's what the American Trucking Association's data shows.

ATA's numbers show that America will need more than 50,000 truckers on the roads by the end of 2017. That information goes on to say this number could skyrocket if companies don't plan to start employing at least 90,000 new drivers annually.

Since more than 70% of the nation's goods are shipped on semis, this lull in drivers will have a domino effect says Wisconsin Trucking Company co-owner Michael Kreilkamp. Kreilkamp says the United States Department of Transportation's new safety regulations limits the current driver pool.

These new restrictions will decrease the number of interested new drivers, which increases the potential for shipping delays and rates. This rate spike will end up charging customers more for their goods.

Jerry Walter has been a driver for more than 40 years and doesn't agree that there's a major driver shortage. He says more companies are hiring international drivers. 

"There's a lot of trucks on the road, I don't know if there needs to be anymore," says Walter.

However, Kreilkamp Trucking Company isn't able to take on as many customers as they'd like because there isn't enough manpower.  Kreilkamp says some businesses have almost 10% of their trucks parked and it's costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The baby boomers are retiring and young kids can't cross state lines till their 21...The DOT physicals are more stringent for these guys if they are borderline diabetic. [DOT is] pulling their licenses," says Kreilkamp. 

While neither Kreilkamp or Walter particularly agree with the US DOT's new safety regulations, AAA found these changes could stop nearly 63,000 truck-related crashes per year. Walter agrees safety is important but says the rules are limiting drivers ability to drive!

"The biggest problem is the DOT regulations coming up, where they're forcing us to take 10-hour breaks. Nobody wants or needs a 10-hour break for the most part," says Walter.

The American Trucking Research Institute surveyed over 1,500 employees throughout US, Mexico and Canada working in the trucking industry. The data found the top two concerns employees have are the Driver Shortage and the new regulations. 

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