Truck drivers could be key to alleviating supply chain issues

Posted at 5:56 AM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 09:08:27-05

MIDDLETON, Idaho — Supply chain shortages and delays are still affecting our daily life and a shortage of truck drivers is still one of the main reasons.

The Idaho Trucking Association is trying something new to recruit young people into the industry. They're bringing a new trucking simulator to Idaho high schools to let students get a feel for what it's like behind the wheel of a semi-truck.

This is part of a nationwide effort to ease the impacts of supply chain issues.

The simulator gives students an idea of what it's like to drive a semi. From driving on different types of roads, to different road conditions, they can even simulate driving drunk.

"We want to just engage the students and let them experience it and know that these opportunities are out there," Allen Hodges, the President of the Idaho Trucking Association said.

This is all part of an effort to solve supply chain issues and a truck driver shortage.

The Idaho Trucking Association said there's a 5,000 person shortage in Idaho and an 80,000 shortage nationwide.

As we reported over the summer, this isn't a new problem.

“We have a lot of retirements and stuff happening, and more coming up with not enough applicants coming in to fill the need from the bottom to get into the trade,” Harry Packwood, CEO of Idaho CDL Training said.

Like many things, the problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"If we don't fill the void, it's going to get worse for everybody," Hodges said. "In Idaho alone, 72% of all our goods are delivered by truck."

Recently, the federal government launched an apprenticeship program, allowing younger drivers to drive a semi across state lines.

"An 18-year-old for years could drive from Cour d'Alene to Idaho Falls, for an example, but that same 18-year-old could not drive from Cour d'Alene into Spokane even though it's ten miles away," Hodges said.

Now, a driver age 18 to 20 can drive between states with another driver who has five years of experience.

"The industry supports it because--again that's another goal with the simulator. The average age of a new driver right now is 39 years old, they're on their second career," Hodges said.

The Idaho Trucking Association will be bringing the simulator to high schools across Idaho. They're hoping to reach 2,000 students a year.