Metro organization says truck driver shortage stems from high turnover rates in a tough industry

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GRAIN VALLEY, MO – The American Trucking Association has predicted a shortage of about 50,000 truck drivers by the end of 2017.

The report, released in October, indicates the projected shortage remains a serious concern for the trucking industry, supply chain and economy at large.

Now, in the final days of 2017, Fox 4 revisited that report to determine if those projections are accurate and if it should be of concern from an economic standpoint.

The Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association, which is based in Grain Valley, represents about 160,000 owner-operators across the United States. Leaders with the organization said the idea of a driver shortage is somewhat of a myth.

They said the real issue at hand affecting the industry is high driver turnover rates.

“It is a tough industry to work in," said Norita Taylor, OOIDA public relations director. "You’re away from home for days, weeks at a time, long hours. It is a driving job. Not everybody likes to do that. The conditions are rather challenging."

In an effort to attract more drivers, some companies are offering big bonuses and more competitive pay -- but there could be a catch.

“People will see the recruitment ads and then the promises of bonuses and things like that, and they'll be lured in by that," Taylor said. "But then when they get into it, what they'll find is that they have to stay for a certain period of time in order to get those bonuses."

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the median annual salary for truck drivers is around $40,000.

Advocacy organizations like OOIDA are constantly working for higher pay and better regulations for people in this much-needed industry.

“There's always going to be a need to move goods," Taylor said. "I would not discourage anyone from getting into a job as a truck driver. You just have to do your research."

The ATA warns the trucking shortage could grow to 126,000 by the end of 2026 if steps aren’t taken to hire and retain more drivers.

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