Truck Driver Shortage Worsens Supply Chain Disruptions, Says SC Trucking Association
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Supply chain disruptions are further exacerbated by an ongoing shortage of truck drivers statewide, according to the South Carolina Trucking Association.
Since trucks are involved in nearly every link in the supply chain system, problems like this create bottlenecks and delays, causing consumers to pay more for food and other goods.
Some drivers experience frustrating delays when picking up goods at ports.
âHours sometimes it takes hours,â said Swarner Warren Hill Jr., a contract truck driver. âI almost hate going in there, I’ve been driving alone for almost three years, I was apprehensive about the port as soon as I arrived. And sometimes it’s a madhouse, it takes more than a few hours just to pick up a container or take one back. “
Truck driver Michael Houston has experienced similar delays.
“I’ve had situations where I’ve had to charge for six to eight hours, and there have been times where if you hit your appointment time, you know they can keep you waiting, j ‘ve waited until 12 hours ago, “he said.
South Carolina Trucking Association president Rick Todd said such delays then discourage companies from engaging in this part of the economy.
He added that supply chain issues are not confined to the trucking industry and the driver shortage is felt nationwide.
âThe biggest problem is we just don’t have enough equipment, we don’t have enough drivers, we don’t have enough workers to participate in the really large and complex supply chain at all. levels, not just in the trucking industry. “Todd said.” And when you talk about ports, it’s an intermodal supply chain that’s international trade, and at best it’s a complex choreography that involves different players and it’s critical that they all work efficiently and in concert to create a flow so that everyone is in sync and you have no issues.
With fewer truck drivers than the desired number on the roads, this system is no longer synchronized and these delays can be prolonged.
Todd said the organization knew a driver shortage was on the horizon due to retirements, but the pandemic made the problem worse and some drivers have since changed careers.
According to Hill Jr., more concrete steps must be taken to keep drivers in the profession.
âWell you have to make it more attractive,â he said. âYou know, back then, truck drivers probably made more money with less expense. We have all the trucks with emissions, and anything about that truck that has to do with emissions is expensive. Filters maybe two or three thousand dollars, and the fuel is dizzying right now. And it’s hard for a driver to see what’s clear once he’s finished paying $ 2,000 in fuel costs per week.
To that end, Todd said there have been recent large wage increases across the industry and a number of companies have also adopted minimum wage.
The South Carolina Trucking Association said supply chain issues could potentially persist for up to a year.
âThe supply chain was tight, the trucking capacity issue was limited before the pandemic and now it’s back in full force because of the whiplash effect,â Todd said. “The demand has outstripped the supply of goods and materials and the transportation system to meet them.”
Todd said his organization is working to attract more drivers to the field through the Be Pro, Be Proud campaign, a workforce development project designed to introduce high school students in South Carolina to the benefits of skilled jobs.
As part of the program, a semi-trailer with hands-on simulators for various professions travels to high schools across the state. It is often booked a year in advance.
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