ARLINGTON, Virginia: American Trucking Association (ATA) President Chris Spear said there are 80,000 fewer drivers than needed, as reported by CNN.
The shortage of drivers has increased 30 percent, compared to the pre-COVID-19 period.
"That is a pretty big spike," said Spear. He noted that many drivers have left the industry, while others retired.
Also, nationwide there has been an increase in demand by trucking customers, leaving firms scrambling to hire more drivers.
This shortage of drivers is contributing to the record backlogs at ports in the United States. While the Biden administration has ordered California ports to operate 24 hours per day, this has proven impossible because of the lack of truck drivers nationwide. "24/7 operations - it's an improvement," Spear remarked. "But, it doesn't matter if it's a port in LA or Long Beach, or the last mile of delivery from a train to a warehouse in Wichita. You're going to have to have a driver and a truck move that freight," he added.
Projections indicate that there could be 160,000 unfilled driving positions by 2030, said Spear.
New legislation in Washington included funding to train 3,000 18-to-20 year olds to become truck drivers.