Driver shortage hits US freight firms

Amarillo, TX, US: Predictions of a truck driver shortage in America are beginning to affect freight operations, including temperature-controlled transport.

Dudley Baldwin, owner of Amarillo-based Baldwin Distribution, told Amarillo Globe News: “I’ve got freight that I can’t haul because I need truck drivers. The last six months we’ve been advertising for drivers. Currently I need 20 drivers. It is the same way with everybody else in the industry.”

Baldwin has 180 staff and operates 125 refrigerated tractor-trailers that transport cheese, beef and pork products throughout the Midwest, to the West Coast and to the Pacific Northwest. The vehicles bring produce and frozen foods back to Texas.

Nashville-based Freight Transportation Research Associates forecast a driver shortage of 400,000 by 2012 in a report released last year. Reasons for the shortage include the recession and an ageing baby boomer work force. In January the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals highlighted the fact that competition has forced 142,000 drivers to leave the profession since 2007. The council also reported that many long-haul truckers are 55 or older.

American Trucking Association economist Bob Costello says the driver shortage is beginning to grow again. “It will be worse than before the recession,” Costello says. “We’re not attracting enough new people to the industry despite offering a good wage.”

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