America facing a shortage of truck drivers - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

America facing a shortage of truck drivers

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In an economy where many are out of work, trucking companies are still having trouble recruiting.

Remember the country song "Six days on the road,(and I'm gonna make it home tonight)"? The song is a reality for many truck drivers. It's that mentality that makes workers shy away from the industry.

Younger workers don't like the idea of being away from home for days at a time. Most drivers today average 50-years-old.

If something doesn't turn around, the country soon will face a critical shortage of truck drivers.

Over the next four years, trucking companies would like to add 115,000 more drivers. But, every year, just 16,000 Americans are being trained for the big rigs.

It's the freedom of the open road that drove Brandon Fortner to become a truck driver. At 45-years-old,
Fortner is part of an aging group of gear jammers.

"It's hard, it's long hours, you're away from home a lot, but it's a good living," says Fortner. "If you're wanting to make a good living, while you're young, it's a good thing to get into because you can bring home some good money. You can put back some money and then you can go to school or whatever you're wanting to do."

Connel Coggins, director of safety and personnel at Buddy Moore Trucking in Birmingham says times have changed. That most companies work with drivers to keep them closer to home, even providing weekends off.

"I think younger people maybe prefer to stay around the house more often than a normal truck driver who could be away from home three to five days-a-week, sometimes seven days-a-week," says Coggins. "20 to 30 years ago, (drivers) would be out 30 days at a time.

As for job security. If a man or woman over the age of 22 gets a commercial drivers license, goes through the training, and stays within the law. "First year, they could make upward of $45,000 to $50,000 and that's plus the benefits package," says Coggins. "Everything that you wear, that you eat, that you sleep on, that you live in, in some way is brought to you by truck."

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