Trucking industry adapts to shortage - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Trucking industry adapts to shortage

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Trucks line up for gas at the Loves in Pueblo County Trucks line up for gas at the Loves in Pueblo County

There is a shortage of truck drivers in America. The combination of an improving economy, changing regulatory environment and an aging workforce have all caused recruiters to get creative in order to attract new employees. 

At the US Truck Driving School in El Paso County, many students are pre-hired meaning there is a job already waiting for them when the graduate. Many students have their tuition paid by their future employers. Training Director Mark Haefner said even those students who aren't already hired can easily find work.

"We do have representatives from several companies coming in just about every other week that will talk with the students that are not pre-hired and draw them in also," Haefner said.

At the Love's Trucks Stop north of Pueblo, drivers tell us it's job that requires a certain personality type.

"It's not for everybody," said driver Jeffery Harris. "If you're a social kind of person, you know, I mean you're going be in the truck kind of by yourself. So, if you're used to being alone and that type of thing."

Long distance runs that keep drivers away from home for extended periods have historically been part of a trucking career. Haefner said he tells students to expect to work odd hours.

"There is no 9 to 5, it's none of this you're going to work for 8 or 10 hours a day and then rest the rest of the time because the way freight has to travel will depend on how you're going to be able to work and sleep and so on," he said. 

But recruiters tell us, even that is changing.  In addition to new pay bonuses and benefits packages, many companies are now reworking routes to make them more accommodating of their drivers home lives.

"We have a lot of home daily routes in the Colorado Springs and Denver area specifically, they can count on being gone in 5 days and have two days off," said Guy Horn, a recruiter for Werner Enterprises, the nation's fourth largest trucking company.

He adds that new changing regulations are adding to the shrinking work force.

"Parameters have changed and that's forced (out) a lot of drivers who are good, qualified drivers, and experienced drivers that don't meet the the qualifications and just the demands of the job itself play into it," Horn said.

Haefner explained that requirements to obtain a Commercial Drivers License used to vary from state to state. Those requirements are more uniform and apply nationwide today. 

"It's actually making things a little bit harder for people to obtain CDL's," he said.

There are roughly 3 million truck drivers on the road. Last year, the median annual salary was $40,000 a year. However, Horn said many of their new drivers at Werner Enterprises can expect to earn up to $50,000 their first year.

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