Describing the trucking industry’s current driver issue as a truck driver shortage isn’t accurate, but that doesn’t change the fact that some companies are struggling to hire drivers.
In Harrisonburg, Virginia, Blizzard Trucking is having a hard time finding truckers willing to stay OTR – a situation that the company owner is describing as a driver shortage.
“A lot of our drivers are of retirement age or close to it so as they’re starting to come off the road we’ve got empty trucks sitting. We’re advertising, we’ve got competitive pay, good benefits, and just no applications,” said Shandi Arbogast, owner of Blizzard Trucking LLC in Harrisonburg.
Arbogast says that younger drivers are unwilling to sacrifice home time to haul long distances and won’t apply for the positions Blizzard is hiring for, and even currently employed older drivers aren’t enjoying the open road like they used to.
“A lot of things factor into and your older generation of drivers they’re the ones that have been out here for years doing it and they’re just not enjoying it like they used to. I’ve had quite a few say it’s just time for me to come off the road,” said Arbogast.
Blizzard’s long-distance hauls have made filling the now-empty seats more difficult as the attitude amongst younger drivers shifts from the open road to home time.
“The couple people I’ve spoken to in the last six to eight months it’s ‘I need weekends off, I need more time at home’ and I mean that just doesn’t work for us with the freight that we haul and the long distance that we go,” Arbogast continued to WHSV 3.
“People are giving sign-on bonuses, they’re giving pay increases, good benefits. I’m just not sure what the answer would be to recruit more drivers in but it’s going to continue to get harder for trucking companies,” she said. “That’s a ripple effect to your merchandise in the stores. So it’s definitely, there is a huge need for truck drivers all over the country and everybody is going to be affected, every single person will be affected by this shortage.”
Transportation and Logistics Program Coordinator, Jim Butler, at the Blue Ridge Community College has a Commercial Driving School, says that their CDL program has grown in the last few years, and the students attending are getting younger. Still, the push to train new drivers doesn’t seem to have helped the underlying issue – people do not want to make sacrifices for trucking the way they used to.
“The industry as a whole has become very attractive to students now,” Butler claims. “The pay is increased, the working conditions are better than they ever have been, the trucks out there, well we’ve seen the trucks, some of them are quite nice.”