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Florida’s Trucking Industry is Working to End Driver Shortage

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Trucking companies are offering sign-on bonuses of up to $15,000 to commercial driver license applicants. Thousands of trucking positions are open across the state, per the Florida Trucking Association (FTA), while the country’s trucker shortage is contributing to ongoing supply chain issues. Last year, the driver shortage hit 80,000 with estimations that number could grow to 160,000 in 2030. The industry needs to hire almost one million new drivers over the next ten years.  

Growing shortage

That shortage has existed for years, but the pandemic made it worse”, said Alix Miller, CEO of FTA. While all types of drivers are needed, long-haul trucking is experiencing the biggest shortage. Not only does trucking play a key role in the global supply chain, but it’s also responsible for transporting over 72% of freight in the U.S. An aging workforce (20% of all Americans will be 65 or older by 2030) and increase in early retirements triggered by the pandemic are likely the main reasons behind the shortage, according to Miller.

Lucrative career opportunity 

“We are suffering from a public-image issue, a misunderstanding of what a good career this is,” Miller said. “These drivers are professionals. Trucking affects every aspect of our economy. Everything you eat, touch, wear comes to you via truck. That impacts Floridians’ daily lives.”
 
New drivers can start earning between $40,000 to $60,000 annually, while experienced drivers can earn over $100,000, said Miller. In addition to job security, flexible hours, and independence, truck drivers can also benefit from comprehensive road safety training. Proactive defensive driving is critical for preventing accidents and protecting people and cargo. Unfortunately, however, there’s been a steady 52% increase in truck accidents since 2009. People who get hurt in a truck accident should contact a reputable lawyer to help them win compensation they deserve, Francis Law advises.

More students enrolling

Although Tra Williams, CEO of FleetForce Truck Driving School, reports higher numbers of students enrolling in his courses, the resulting supply of graduates still isn’t “making a dent in the demand. More needs to be done to meet the need”, he said. Williams also notes hold-ups at tax collectors’ offices in Florida are sometimes leaving students waiting for weeks and perhaps even months to take the written learner’s permit exam before they can start training. According to Aaron Keller, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, some tax collectors and state offices are extending their hours, including weekend hours, and “prioritizing CDL appointments and scheduling exams directly with third-party testing providers” in order to support testing demand. 
 
 “We celebrate people who want to be Insta-famous and influencers, and what we forget is the country is built by carpenters, electricians, truck drivers and the skilled-labor force,” Williams said. “You won’t have food on your shelves without truck drivers.” Currently, men comprise 90% of the industry, and Florida Trucking Association is aiming to recruit more women to bridge the gap. They’re also supporting efforts towards a federal law change to allow 18+year olds to drive trucks across state lines (teenage truckers can currently only drive within the state).  

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