Nationwide truck driver shortage could increase prices for consumers

60,000 truck drivers were needed across the country in 2018, according to the American Trucking Association and the pandemic has only made that problem worse.

The ATA says the trucking industry would need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next 10 years to meet the demand. Robert Garcia has been a truck driver for roadies Inc. In Bakersfield for three years now.

“I like the fact that I can just go and explore and look at the multiple things I’ve never seen in the past,” Robert Garcia, Truck Driver for Roadies Inc., said.

But not many feel the same way Robert does. Bakersfield is now part of a nationwide truck driver shortage.

We are in the Central Valley, where everything we move from Salinas, Los Angeles, Santa Maria, we move everything out," Avie Nagra, CEO for Roadies Inc., said. "So, Bakersfield is a new hub for trucking. When Bakersfield started to feel shortages, that means the whole country is feeling shortages.

Robert's boss, Avie Nagra, says Bakersfield is a hub of trucking.

Nagra says, the United States did get a lot of immigrant truck drivers before the pandemic from Russia, India, and Mexico, but the pandemic has stopped that, due to border closures.

Rannie Vincent, Admissions Representative for Western Truck School in Bakersfield says the DMVs in Bakersfield closed for 65 days and then again for 30 days since COVID struck. When the DMVs closed their school did too.

“Now with the DMV opening back up, there is a backlog of at least up to five weeks to get people in for appointments, even after they finish training, and so that also causes a problem with that,” Vincent, said.

But, that’s not the only factor leading to a driver shortage.

“The thing about the pandemic, a lot of drivers, they came off the road, because it was unsafe for them to travel across the country in different places and with all the incentives that were put in place, a lot of them are still at home on unemployment,” Jeff Sanford, Lead Instructor for Western Truck Schools, said.

Vincent says this low supply and high demand will increase consumer prices.

“You’re going to feel that at the checkout for sure,” Vincent, said. “It has to fall back on something, because the prices of the trucking companies, moving their products are going to have to go up.”