Truck drivers play an essential role in getting commodities to Americans in dire situations; recent weather crises show nation’s need to deal with looming driver shortage.
(St. Petersburg, FL) October 1, 2018—As Hurricane Florence bore down on the coastal Southeast earlier this month, the trucking industry served as a lifeline, bringing convoys of bottled water, MREs, and medical supplies into affected parts of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas.1 Truckers were also instrumental in helping ease a pre-storm outbreak of gasoline shortages in the area.2 “As has happened before,” says John Kearney, CEO, Advanced Training Systems, “the trucking industry, which moves more than 70% of all goods delivered in this country3, came through when it was needed.” Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for driver training, among other applications, adds, “The fact that there will be more such weather situations highlights the need to deal with our nation’s chronic and growing shortage of drivers.”
To help ease the flow of gasoline and other vital supplies into the Hurricane Florence impact zone, the U.S. Department of Transportation temporarily waived certain federal trucking rules, including the 11-hour limit on the amount of time a fully licensed and insured driver can stay behind the wheel. State governments in the areas relaxed state driver regulations along with the federal waiver, both hours-of-service requirements and certain size and weight restrictions.4
While Hurricane Florence is no longer at the top of national news reports, its effects are still being felt. Speaking more than a week after the storm made landfall, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said that “treacherous” floodwaters were still threatening the state, making travel dangerous in hard-hit areas. He cautioned residents to avoid driving east of Interstate 95 and south of US-70, an area that encompasses about a third of the state.5 In neighboring South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster estimated damage from flooding in his state at $1.2 billion in what he characterized as the worst disaster in the state’s modern history.6
The scope of the highway logistics of the storm, notes ATS’s Kearney, and of predicted even more powerful future storms to come, clearly illustrates the need for a sufficient and well-trained corps of long-distance truckers. Unfortunately, as documented by the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry currently has 50,000 fewer drivers than it needs7, a shortage that may triple by 2026.8
“Truck drivers are essential to our nation’s well-being,” says Kearney, “and—as we’ve recently seen from Hurricane Florence—in a number of different ways. There are a lot of factors contributing to the driver shortage. It’s not a simple problem, but we—not just as an industry, but as one of the linchpins of the American economy—need to put our heads together and figure out how to solve it.”
Regardless of how the economic issues are resolved, an essential part of trucking’s future will be a steady supply of highly trained, technology-savvy new drivers. ATS’s patented simulator technology, notes Kearney, can train drivers to handle extreme situations like storms and even mass highway evacuations. The company’s goal is to help produce drivers today who will be ready to meet the needs of tomorrow.
About Advanced Training Systems LLC:
Advanced Training Systems (ATS) is a high-tech simulator technology and engineering firm that has revolutionized the design and manufacture of advanced training systems to improve training and create safer drivers. ATS, the holder of multiple patents in high-tech training simulation, has as its mission to provide this cutting-edge adaptive training to all involved in the transportation industry at an affordable cost, resulting in safer drivers/operators. For more information, visit www.atstrainingsystems.com
- Strickland, Zach, “Charlotte and Atlanta are flooded with relief supplies as truckers help prepare for Florence,” FreightWaves, September 15, 2018.
- Bomey, Nathan, “Gas shortages, long lines worsen in North, South Carolina as Hurricane Florence nears,” USA Today, September 12, 2018.
- Kane, Joseph, and Tomer, Adie, “Metro Modes: Carting a Path for the U.S. Freight Transportation Network,” Brookings Institution/JPMorgan Chase, June 2015.
- Siciliano, John, “Trump administration relaxes trucking rules to prevent fuel and electricity shortages in hurricane,” Washington Examiner, September 11, 2018.
- “North Carolina governor says floodwaters still “treacherous” after Florence,” CBS/AP, September 22, 2018.
- “New evacuations ordered as Florence flooding threatens more destruction,” CBS/AP, September 21, 2018.
- Gilmore, Courtney, “Economic Surge Leaves Trucking Industry With Driver Shortage,” NBC, August 8, 2018.
- Keitz, Anders, “America’s Massive Truck Driver Shortage May Triple by 2026: Experts,” The Street, July 16, 2018.
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