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Trucking Industry Faces Record Shortage Of Drivers

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Driving many of the highways of the Mountain West, it's common to be a lone car surrounded by semi-trucks. But that could change. The trucking industry is facing a record shortage of drivers right now.

Bob Costello is the Chief Economist at the American Trucking Associations. He said if current trends hold,the shortage of drivers could surpass 174,000 by 2026.

"If you're short bottled water what happens to the price of bottled water? It goes up," Costello said.

In other words, consumers are paying more for products. Costello said there's been a driver shortage for a long time, but recent high demand in goods through services like Amazon Prime have widened that gap even more.

Still Costello added that changes in technology in the next decade could attract more drivers.

"Truck drivers will be able to pull onto the highway, get going and then push sort of an autopilot button, where they can sit there, sort of like a pilot in a plane," he said.

As for now, trucking companies are increasing their pay and offering generous sign-on bonuses as a way to sweeten the deal.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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