Iowa’s trucking industry offering hiring incentives amid driver shortage

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Trucking companies across the country are struggling to get more people behind the wheel.

John Schell has been a driver for Ruan for more than 20 years and delivers inventory across Iowa. He says he is not shocked by the driver shortage happening across the country and in Iowa.

“I think we’re already seeing them. The general public might not necessarily know about that, but your business operators already do know that,” said Schell.

Brenda Neville, CEO and president of the Iowa Motor Truck Association, says there has actually been a shortage of drivers for several years. Neville believes the lack of drivers is due to many drivers aging out of the industry, some retiring due to the pandemic, freight growth, and competition from other sectors.

Companies are now offering more incentives to attract new drivers.

“Trucking companies in Iowa are offering signing bonuses,” said Neville. “A lot of trucking companies have invested in brand new equipment, they’re looking at the routes, they’re looking at home time, they’re looking at family support to attract people to the industry.”

According to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry was short roughly 60,800 drivers in 2018. The study reveals that driver shortages could swell to over 160,000 by 2028.

Neville says the trucking industry hopes Congress will pass the Drive Safe Act. It’s legislation that would allow trucking companies to recruit and hire 18-year-old drivers to travel across the country.

“An 18-year-old would be able to get into an apprenticeship program and drive a truck with somebody with them,” said Neville. “They’ll have to put so many hours in so they can progress and drive outside of the state of Iowa. We are excited about it because it does open the door to recruit some of these younger folks at the age of 18 that really want to drive, but they want to drive farther than the state of Iowa.”

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