Truck driver shortage causes economic speed bump

More than 220,000 jobs are currently available for truck drivers across the country and until those jobs are filled, fewer products will be delivered to businesses.

Despite their love for the open road, some men and women are getting out of the trucking business. The government has put more strict regulations on truckers, limiting the money they can make.

"They've regulated the hours of service- how long they can drive," Amarillo College Truck Driving Academy Director of Operations Robert Mathews said. "You know, that limits how much money they can make. Of course, their log books have gotten more and more stringent. The regulations on physicals are a little more stringent than before."

Though less time driving means less money, some truck drivers feel the cut in pay is worth the additional safety on the road.

"They need them to make the road safer, so I'm all for the regulations," Truck Driving Academy Student Josh Kirby said.

"They're making it a lot safer for the drivers out there," Truck Driver Eric Dempsey added, "because a lot of the shippers at one point in time- way back- were getting away with a lot of things they can't now. And I'm glad they do that because that protects the drivers out there and the people around us."

Those regulations are keeping some from getting behind the wheel, which is keeping many businesses from receiving the abundance of items they need.

"A lot of companies are experiencing difficulties with their inventories," Mathews pointed out. "They've got to increase their inventory because they can't get the deliveries on time. It's going to cost more money for everybody. If you don't believe that, look at your food costs right now- a good percentage of that is transportation."

According to Mathews, the Texas Panhandle offers a variety of trucking jobs. The oil field, he said, pays its drivers up to $1,000 per week. For those who do not have a commercial driver license, Amarillo College offers a trucking school. Five weeks of classes prepare students to go out on their own- that includes a physical and licensing. Mathews added students can start out making $40,000 per year.

Under the new government regulations, truck drivers must drive no more than ten hours at a time and must rest at least eight hours after.