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Lack of truck drivers could mean higher prices in stores
BY: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- The United States is experiencing a shortage in truck drivers and experts said that could mean a dent in your bank account.
Everything you buy from the store has one thing in common -- it was delivered by a truck driver. Truckers, however, have more power than people may think.
"In order to keep prices down we have to make sure that drivers are doing their part to make sure those goods get delivered on time," said Mike Williams, instructor at Mesilla Valley Transportation.
If a load isn't delivered on time, Williams said it costs the company. In turn, the company recoups that cost by jacking up prices.
"There's an old saying in trucking that says if trucks stop, America stops too," said Williams.
While a truck driver's job can be stressful, drivers said it's been even harder lately.
According to the American Trucking Association, right now, three million truck drivers are on U.S. roads, but they say companies need 30,000 more.
Even though regulations only allow truckers to drive 11 hours a day, those already on the job said they're feeling pushed to go the extra mile.
"They want you to go 1,000 miles a day, but I won't do that. It's just too hard on your body," said Mark Mayes, a truck driver for the past 37 years.
Mayes said when he drives too long, he gets fatigued. He said that's when accidents happen.
"You're tired. You weave from lane to lane," said Mayes.
To reduce the hardships, trucking companies are stressing the high demand for drivers.
"Nine out of 10 guys, or 10 people, that come into an institution like ours will pretty much be guaranteed something as soon as they get out," said Williams.
Experts said with a recovering economy, there's more demand for truck drivers.
Williams said, while many people leave the industry because of the hardships of rarely being home, there will always new people starting trucking school. For example, 25-year-old Anthony Gomez is just about to graduate from Mesilla Valley Transportation, a truck driving training facility in Canutillo.
Gomez said the paycheck is a huge draw.
"I've heard anywhere from $38,000 to anywhere to about $50,000," said Gomez.
According to Williams, that's just a starting salary.
Williams said he's starting to see a rise in people going through truck driving school in the borderland because of a peaked interest, however, he predicts the industry will probably face a shortage of drivers for a long time.