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Rough road ahead for truck drivers?

VIDEO

HERMON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There is a high demand for commercial truck drivers across the nation, but drivers and business owners say they are having a hard time filling those openings.

According to a report by the American Truckers Association, in 2014, the trucking industry was short 38,000 drivers. It's predicted by 2024, that number could jump to 175,000. In order to keep on pace with the growing industry -- in the next decade we need to hire 890,000 commercial truck drivers nationwide.

Jason Brooks owns a FedEx franchise in Hermon, he's had two positions open since May that he can't seem to fill. "Putting ads on indeed, craigslist, the newspaper -- and we just aren't getting any bites," Brooks said. Filling open positions is crucial to any truck driver employer, it could affect you more than you realize. "You need trucks to deliver packages, you need trucks to get your food to the grocery store," Brooks said. "Trucks deliver everything you get in the store pretty much, so it's going to hurt a lot of people."

Gregory Stevens has been behind the wheel of a truck for over 20 years, he can't imagine doing anything else. "For me it's the thrill, I love the feeling," Stevens said. "Put me in a four box office, forget it." He feels less people are coming to the industry because the younger generation lacks work ethic. He says the industry itself has also changed a lot, it used to be more like a family, now its more regulated.

According to that ATA report, there are number of contributing factors to the lack of drivers. "One being age, drivers are getting older and there no one to replace them. This also isn't a lifestyle for everyone -- more and more people want to be at home versus on the road. As technology and other industries grow, so do job opportunities that may be more enticing. There's also one more thing...

"We're also seeing a hike in failed drug screenings," Brooks said. "Since the state of Maine has passed the legalization of marijuana, we've had six failures in the last year just in my company."
While there is no easy solution in sight -- drivers say it could be as simple as sparking someone's interest early.
Instead of hitting the books maybe teens should be out experiencing the industry. "Put them in a truck for a day to see what it's like," Stevens said. "Maybe there will be more people wanting to do it."

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