Trucker Shortage Affects Local Businesses

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COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri businesses have taken note of a 25,000 truck driver shortage nationwide.

The shortage, coupled with higher fuel costs and a higher volume of transport items, makes it harder for some businesses to get their deliveries on time at a reasonable price, according to the American Trucking Associations.

The Heidelberg owner and manager Richard Walls said he encountered a delivery issue Monday.

"We had a driver that was injured on the job and so they had to scramble and get other drivers to cover which delayed our delivery," Walls said.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulatory changes are the main constraint on drivers' ability to make deliveries on time, according to Missouri Trucking Association President and CEO Tom Crawford.

"There has been a change in the hours of service rules for the industry which has created some inefficiencies in the system," Crawford said. "Now that the economy is turning up again it has highlighted the pressure point that truckers have been complaining about for years."

Crawford said the driver shortage was the number one issue Missouri Truckers Association board members addressed at their meeting last week.  The members have been working to change the federal regulations and ease the process of becoming a truck driver.

"Just like in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. In trucking, it's drivers, drivers, drivers," Crawford said. "We try to fund some scholarships around the state  and help people get in contact with some resources to get people trained to drive."

Walls said he has seen the number of deliveries over time consolidated to once or twice a week.

"It doesn't concern me as much as it probably concerns the manager for the food services distributor we use, but it can affect us," Walls said. "We're going to do all we can to make our pricing competitive and affordable."

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. freight weight is transported on trucks, according to the American Trucking Associations.

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