Truck driver shortages leave local shipping companies in a “mess”

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IDAHO FALLS — Industrial, farming and other cargo products aren’t finding their way to destinations as easily as they used to. And it’s due to a lack of commercial truck drivers.

According to the American Trucking Association, driver shortages nationwide this year will hit 50,000 needed drivers. The association predicts that number will increase exponentially to 250,000 by 2028 and the effects are being felt locally.

Family owned trucking company Doug Andrus Distributions is looking for ways to beat those odds and keep their drivers numbers high.

“Idaho has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.9 percent,” said Lynn Fuhriman, Vice President of Operations for Doug Andrus. “Most economists have consensus that you are at full employment at a 3 percent unemployment rate, so locally we have a super hot job environment.”

Because of the “hot job environment,” trucking companies are looking to give incentives to recruit drivers in the area.

Super T Transports offers “more money per mile” as well as satellite TV in the trucks. Doug Andrus is offering a free car giveaway. To enter, you need to refer yourself or another person as having a commercial driver’s license for Doug Andrus. You also must have one year experience, be hired by the company and work full time for them before May 4, 2018

But those incentives may not be enough for some drivers.

“The rigors that over-the-road truck drivers encounter are such that the younger generations are not coming into the industry in sufficient number to replace retiring drivers,” Fuhriman said. “This lack of backfill is significant by itself. Simply put – there are easier jobs where the worker can be home every night, and not away from family and friends for up to a week or more.”

Fuhriman says the rigors and time away have always been a factor in the industry. There is also the issue of new regulations which contribute to a “mess” in the industry. Federal regulation requires drivers to now have an electronic login service as opposed to the standard paper log of hours.

“There is a learning curve and cost to complying with this requirement that will have to be passed onto shippers and then later to the consumer,” said Fuhriman. “The word ‘mess’ refers to both the driver shortage we are experiencing, and the regulatory pressures we face that makes it very difficult to predict future conditions.”

Despite setbacks and regulations, there are still plenty of jobs available and many companies are willing to offer training to fill the need of drivers for the industry. C.R. England offers training classes to then hire graduates and most companies offer orientation so drivers can learn the specific rules and regulations of the company and then hit the road.

If you are interested in joining a fleet you can contact Doug Andrus and Super T on their respective websites. Jobs are available for those who qualify as well as opportunities for drivers to enroll in incentive programs.

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