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Morgan County is among many areas experiencing truck driver shortage

Come summer, fuel companies may not have enough drivers to fully supply all gas stations in the state
Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - You may soon have trouble finding products in stores, or even fuel in pumps due to a shortage of truck drivers. An industry trade group estimates more than 50,000 drivers are needed right now, nationwide.

This shortage is taking a toll on the Decatur truck driving training company, ESD School. Job placement coordinator Charles Robinson says finding drivers has always been an issue.

“You’ve got people retiring, you’ve got people who get out there and decide that’s not the life for them,” said Robinson.

The pandemic has made things even worse. Robinson says they had to shut down for seven weeks and says unemployment benefits and fears of getting sick led to fewer workers. He also says the hiring criteria is pretty strict.

“We do have a lot of people applying but I think sometimes the truck lines are going to have to bend their rules or regulations to get some of the people in,” said Robinson.

Clay Ingram from AAA Alabama says there is specifically a shortage in tanker truck drivers who distribute gasoline.

“Last year, during the pandemic when gasoline demand was really, really low a lot of truck drivers got laid off or weren’t busy enough to justify staying employed there and took other jobs in other industries,” said Ingram.

These drivers are in high demand but are not easy to come by.

“To drive those tanker trucks you have to have a very specialized license and certifications you can’t just be a regular 18 wheeler driver,” said Ingram.

Ingram says by summer, fuel companies may not have enough of these drivers to fully supply all gas stations in the state. However, Ingram believes the situation will not be severe.

“It’s nothing to be alarmed about, nothing to be concerned about, it could be a little frustrating should that happen but there’s plenty of gasoline. Our gasoline supply is higher and stronger than it’s ever been,” said Ingram.

Ingram believes the worst-case scenario would be a gas station running out of fuel for just a portion of the day and says it would be scattered and very short-lived.

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