COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - There’s always been a need for truck drivers across the country, but now that the world seems to be on the back end of the COVID-19 pandemic, that need could be increasing.
Trucking is responsible for moving 70-percent of all freight in the United States. According to Brad Barbers, campus president of the Georgia Driving Academy in Columbus and Conyers Georgia, right now there’s a big shortage of drivers causing delays in the delivery of everyday goods, and COVID-19 isn’t helping the situation at all.
“It’s seems with the pandemic, we’ve had more drivers leave the industry,” said Barbers. “In addition to that , we’ve had a lot of schools and a lot of states that have their DMVs shut down, that really restricted the amount of new drivers entering the commercial trucking industry. But we’re experiencing that across the country. I think with the pandemic, when it came through, a lot of people elected to retire earlier than they may have.”
According to Barbers, there’s over 80 jobs open for truck drivers just in Columbus.
John Britt, a former truck driver, tells News Leader 9 he began driving in 2019 but he made the decision to come off the road in January of this year because he saw his pay dip once COVID-19 started. He didn’t think being on the road for 16-hours a day away from his family was worth it.
“With me stopping driving is, because I’m only bringing in two loads a week, versus when it wasn’t COVID, I could bring in five. It’s the pay difference. I could bring home 1400 a week versus when COVID came I’m bringing in 900,” said Britt.
According to long distance driver Lorenza Williams, the shortage of truckers makes it harder for the ones currently on the road, and that includes bus drivers, trash pick up, and any other job that requires a commercial drivers license to get behind the wheel.
“It’s a lot of work if you want to work, but right now we just running. The guys out there now. Road warriors just running,” said Williams. “You go to Walmart or any other store that you go in, your favorite restaurant or any other fast food you go in. They say I’m sorry we don’t have it tonight because the trucker hadn’t backed in and dropped the supplies.”
Truck companies across the country are offering sign-on bonuses, 401k plans, and any other types of incentives they can come up with to get more people behind the wheels of big rigs or anything else that requires a commercial drivers license.