The pandemic has put a new focus on Wisconsin’s shortage of commercial truck drivers. Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association Vice President Dan Johnson said it’s not a new problem.
“This has probably been going on for at least the last ten years, maybe even longer than that.”
Johnson said the trucking workforce is “graying,” with many older drivers retiring, and not enough young people entering the field.
“Over time, we see a steady increase of driver shortage, but at the same time we’ve also seen an increase in the amount of freight that’s being moved across the country,” he explained.
Johnson said Wisconsin trucking firms have improved their compensation packages in order to attract and retain drivers. In addition, a provision of the federal infrastructure package would allow drivers ages 18 to 21 to drive interstate routes
“You can drive from Beloit to Superior, if you’re under the age of 21 . . and you’re fine. But you can’t drive from Beloit to Rockford, Illinois because you’re crossing state lines,” Johnson said.
“It’s not just truck drivers. School bus drivers, motor coach drivers, tow truck drivers. There’s a whole host of driver shortages that go much further than just the trucking industry.”