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Trucking shortage eases but issues still remain in Central Texas

Recruiting truck drivers
Posted at 7:30 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 20:30:20-05

WACO, Texas — Third generational farmer in McGregor Kevin Huffman produces and delivers many goods like dairy, wheat and corn but getting those goods out is challenging on Huffman farms.

He said, "It’s difficult because I may have to get in the truck or we may have to pull people from other areas of the farm to get that feed that we’ve promised to deliver.”

He’s a farmer who wants to deliver to his customers but he’s down two truckers.

There is even a sign on his farm facing the road that reads "Need CDL Drivers."

“We just can’t saw ‘Oh we’re going to take off a couple of weeks and relax’ — you just don’t do that" he said.

"Our problem is probably the lack of CDL drivers. The lack of experience and the lack of probably commitment.”

After talking with Kevin and Marvin Cross with Central Texas CDL Truck Driving School in Waco, several factors continue to play into a lack of CDL drivers:

  • Finding people that want and can afford to be a driver as it can cost upwards of 6-8k up front to get your CDLs.
  • Also 6 months or longer to go through the process to get your CDLs
  • Bigger companies providing better insurance for newer drivers and paying drivers more money

Marvin says, many of these factors and others are hurting local operations and as for his enrollment numbers.
“It’s not too high and it’s not too low getting students in," he said.

In late 2023, The American Trucking Associations estimated roughly 60,000 drivers are needed which is down from the highs of 2022 at 78,000 drivers and 2021’s 81,000 drivers when "freight demand was more robust" according to the ATA.

"Well here’s the deal, we’re always going to have trucking and we’re always going to have trucking in the industry," Marvin said.

There could be more optimism on the way.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is preparing to implement the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Commercial Driver License (CDL) Skills Test Modernization initiative.

The goal is to create a simpler and more effective testing process that best assesses an applicant’s readiness to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safely.

We’ll have to wait and see how this will impact the trucking shortage — DPS begins implementing the initiative in this spring.