Shortage of truck drivers will impact economy

They were once dubbed knights of the road.

It takes a unique breed of individual who enjoys driving on 18 wheels and being gone weeks at a time to be a commercial truck driver.

The commercial truck driving industry reports more than 60,000 vacancies this year, and could double in the future, causing wide-ranging impacts on our economy.

One out of every 15 jobs in Texas is in the truck driving industry.

Texas Trucking Association CEO and President John Esparza said there's a lot of factors that compete against the industry.

“Whenever the home construction starts are high, we compete with the construction industry,” said Esparza.

Trucking often competes with manufacturing jobs.

Another hurdle, you can hire in construction and manufacturing at age 18. To be a truck driver, must be 21 to get CDL, but preferably 24-25, so they're more qualified, and liability insurance rates are better.

Not that long ago, when shale was $100 a barrel, Esparza said the trucking industry was losing drivers to the oil fields on the coastal bend and Houston area.

He said it's also getting more difficult to get the younger generation interested in truck driving.

Esparza said he's talked to a dozen companies that are recruiting drivers from outside of the United States.

“You’ve got carriers that are recruiting outside of the country, because they can’t find enough drivers within the country that will drive their trucks,” said Esparza.

In an effort to lure more drivers, commercial truck driver's pay is increasing, and will have to continue, with some trucker's salaries averaging $65,000, not including sign-on bonuses.

Other future contributing factors include technology, like automated trucks or drones.

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