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Nebraska sees drastic need for truck drivers

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s been a problem for years but now, things are getting even worse. Nebraska’s trucking industry is seeing a steady decline in drivers, and if things continue on this route, it could effect you from getting your everyday items.

One of the biggest issues, especially with summer coming up, is that gas stations may start running low on fuel, simply because there aren’t enough drivers to transport it.

Places like Lincoln Trucking Company say they’re hiring, but they aren’t seeing many applications come in. Even when they are, people don’t always have the required qualifications.

“In Nebraska, about half of all the communities in our state receive everything they need, literally everything, by truck alone. No trains, no planes, no other means of fulfilling the needs of those communities except trucks,” said Kent Grisham, president of the Nebraska Trucking Association.

This driver shortage, the Nebraska Trucking Association said, is a critical issue for the industry. “Without trucks, store shelves don’t get refilled. Fuel supplies stop where they are,” said Grisham.

Long hours on the road, and weeks away from family is what the Lincoln Trucking Company tells us may be steering people away.

“If you drove down the interstate, you’ll see we have a sign on one of our trailers that says, ‘always looking for drivers,’” said Terry Novak, the president of Lincoln Trucking Company.

Even though the job has plenty of benefits and pays well, it’s just not enough to keep drivers on the road. “Within the matter of a few years, you could very well be making a six-figure income,” said Grisham.

CDL instructors say enrollment for truck driving classes has gone down significantly. “Last year, we had classes with only about six students,” said Mike Kuebler, director of SCC’s professional truck driving program.

If the trend of not having enough truck drivers continues, we could start feeling the effects in Nebraska’s economy. “The price might go up on some things, or you’re going to find places where the shelves are empty,” said Kuebler.

This truck driver shortage is causing some companies in the industry to get creative. They’re finding new ways to keep drivers at home more often.

SCC’s CDL program is eight weeks long and costs a little over $1,000 to complete.

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