Truck Driver Shortage Expected To Boost Retail Prices In Months Ahead

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Trucks are essential in getting the goods we need from here to there, but local trucking companies say the national shortage of truck drivers is hitting home.

“We see it on a daily basis as we try to fill open positions for drivers,” Brian McGuire, vice president of human resources at Pitt Ohio, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

Delano: “How bad is it?”
McGuire: “It’s getting worse.”

McGuire hires truck drivers for the locally based trucking company.

“We have open positions right now we cannot fill,” he said.

He’s hardly alone.

Fifty thousand drivers are needed by the end of this year, a number that could triple in ten years.

Demographics are behind the shortfall, but so is the lifestyle, truckers will tell you.

“It’s a hard life. I mean I’ve got a 36-inch box that I’m sleeping in in the back of my truck most nights,” says Greg Gedenberg, a truck driver.

At Elite Transit Solutions, Brian Blunkosky and his colleagues find the cheapest way to transport goods for their clients.

Blunkosky says the driver shortage is exacerbated by new regulations about to take effect.

“Truckers will be regulated to only be on the road for approximately ten hours at a time,” he said. “After that ten hours, they will have to rest for ten hours, which means their production will go significantly down.”

The need for more truck drivers will only increase.

One local Teamsters official told KDKA that if 100 people showed up with a Class A commercial drivers’ license, they’d be hired right now, today.

And here’s the other consequence — with 70 percent of goods transported on these highways, a driver shortage means higher prices for us at the store.

“I think if they want to hire more drivers, they’re going to have to increase the pay,” says Gedenberg.

And that means only one thing.

McGuire: “Somebody has to pay the cost of getting that freight to the final destination.”
Delano: “And if it costs you more to hire and haul, the end result is higher costs for the rest of us?”
McGuire: “It has to be passed along, yes.”

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