CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – During the pandemic the need for food deliveries, increased online shopping, and shipping COVID-19 vaccines once they arrived put added pressure on the trucking industry that was already severely shorthanded.
The American Trucking Association says there was a shortage of 61-thousand truck drivers at the end of 2019. The pandemic only made the problem worse.
“You know if they paid a little more than the younger people may look at it as a career, other than, ‘Wow! I don’t want to be a truck driver,” said Todd Matthews, a truck driver.
But others say, there’s an even bigger reason for the current trucker shortage, especially in West Virginia.
“There are not enough trained instructors out there. There are only two viable schools within 30 minutes of here,” said Bud Anderson a driving instructor in South Charleston.
Anderson adds that it takes a strong-willed person to be a truck driver. “You have to be solid minded, good character, and not be dependent on any opioids or alcohol.”
America’s truckers currently move 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight. “Its a very serious job, and you have to take it serious because that’s a lot of weight moving up and down the road,” said Matthews.
But those who do it full time say the job does have it’s perks. “You get to see the country, it can be a little stressful but you really get to see a lot of things and meet a lot of people all over the country,” added Matthews.
In an effort to fix the shortage the American Truckers Association are making a push to lower the minimum legal age of interstate commerce truck drivers from 21 to 18 years old.
The legislation they are pushing for in congress in called the “Drive Safe Act.”