Chain Reaction: Is a truck driver shortage to blame for backups?
GOSHEN, Ind. --- Virtually all consumer goods in the US are affected by supply chain disruptions but what’s fueling the backups?
A major shortage of truck drivers is a part of the problem.
The lull of a semi-truck driving by probably doesn’t make you think twice. But the groceries on store shelves, the gas at the gas pump, at some point sat in the back of a truck.
“Tiffany: How many trucks do you send out a day? Kevin: Depends on the day. It’s been a little slow this week because of the weather.”
Kevin George, Director of Dispatch and Driver Success at Quality Driveaway, facilitates the delivery of trucks, tractors, and trailers from his office in Goshen.
Together Quality Driveaway and Foremost Transport has a driver base of thousands dispatched all across the country.
“The ability to deliver trucks, it slows down the supply chain if vendors and dealerships and companies that do delivery do not have their trucks,” George said.
The American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of 80 thousand drivers. They also estimate about 72 percent of America’s freight moves by trucks.
“They’re essential to moving goods. Whether it be a truck or a case of lipstick,” George said.
You’re probably feeling the strain of the driver shortage at the store. Notice any empty shelves or higher grocery bills? When it costs more to get products to their final destination, it costs more for the consumer.
Jake Phipps, CEO of Phipps & Co, has years of experience importing building materials from other countries. He says ships sitting outside California ports for weeks on end have been a continuing problem.
“The whole supply chain has been skewed. The cost of goods are up, raw materials are up, inflation is at a 40 year high,” Phipps said.
Another issue is a tariff that President Biden’s administration has levied on truck chassis imported from China.
“We’re importing the chassis from China, we’re getting a super high tariff on the chassis and that’s playing also into the super high cost of goods getting to your door. That’s why everything is up, up, and up,” Phipps said.
Less chassis’ mean more wait time and more complicated distribution of goods. But there are some headlights at the end of the tunnel.
Just last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington introduced a bill to address the nation’s ongoing supply chain shortages.
Their main priority focuses on filling in-demand truck driver jobs.
The state of Indiana is testing a new pilot program within stateliness that allows teenagers just 18 years old to drive trucks provided they don’t have any outstanding tickets or issues with the law. Officials hope this will cut down on the shortage of drivers.
Folks like George just hope these new incentives will get people in the driver’s seat sooner.
"I do want to see drivers be successful, see them run their company great and help us run our company," George said.