New Virginia community college program aims to combat ongoing truck driver shortage

With fewer truck drivers on the road, deliveries are delayed

ROANOKE, Va. – The truck driver shortage reached a historic high in 2021, according to the American Trucking Association. Now, there’s a new program in the Commonwealth that aims to change that which means you could see fewer empty shelves in your local grocery store.

It’s a pain to see bare shelves in the stores, but with fewer truck drivers on the road deliveries are delayed.

“There’s a lot of freight to move and the number of drivers available to move is not where it should be,” Fleetmaster Safety Supervisor Eric Cottrell said.

There’s a nationwide shortage of more than 80,000 truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. If no changes happen now, they predict it can double by 2030.

Fleetmaster Senior Director of Risk Management Andy Kester said he is not surprised by the trend.

“A lot of our drivers are now retiring,” Kester said. “We are seeing that a lot here lately. We just retired a driver who was here for 18 years.”

That’s why Fleetmaster is joining a new statewide program that aims to combat the shortage.

The Virginia Trucking Association and Virginia Ready Initiative aims to train students at 23 community colleges.

Once they receive their license, they will be paired with a company to get rolling.

“Everybody in the community benefits from truck driving and these men and women are doing a thankless job to keep moving America forward,” VA Ready Initiative Partnership Manager Taylor Beck said.

The goal is to staff 100 drivers in the first 100 days of this year.

So far, they are at 20%.

Ward Best with the Virginia Trucking Association said it’s not like the demand is leaving anytime soon.

“We’ve all seen throughout the pandemic the need for goods and services has never been hired. And that continues to grow,” Best said.

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