LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Oct. 4 was National Truckers Appreciation Day.
The Kentucky Trucker’s Association said there are 27,000 professional truck drivers in the Commonwealth and 113,000 Kentuckians working in the trucking industry.
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the trucking industry generates around $940 billion dollars a year, but the industry is still facing driver shortages.
In fact, the ATA predicts that by 2030, there will be 160 thousand job openings in the trucking industry.
Rick Taylor, President and CEO of the Kentucky Trucker’s Association said driver shortages are not the only issue driving the industry.
“There’s a lack of parking,” Taylor said. “So there’s about 3.5 million trucks on the road, and there’s only about 313,000 truck parking spots. That’s why sometimes you may see the trucks parked on the shoulder of the road. So we’re definitely advocating to get funding through the Parking Safety Improvement Act to expand truck parking, or to take either old weigh stations or rest areas and rehab those to be safe to park.”
Taylor said congestion is another issue.
“Congestion costs the industry billions of dollars every year,” Taylor said. “What we’re told is the number of hours; it’d be like 425,000 truck drivers sitting still for a year.”
Despite the hot-button items, Taylor said truck drivers have a great career, one that affords drivers to travel the country and start out with a livable salary to build on.
“We’ve got drivers that are making six figures right now,” Taylor said. “You’re going to make a very nice salary to be able to support your family, buy a home, and have a nice truck. The pay is good.”
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Taylor said drivers need to be safety-minded and have patience on the road. For the long-haul drivers, they’ll have accommodations in the sleeper bath, equipped with microwaves and a TV.
Every driver has to earn their Commercial Drivers License, and Taylor said it takes about 90–120 days to complete courses. Courses can be found at trade schools like Blue Grass Technical College.
Taylor said many start out as forklift operators, helping load vehicles, before moving up to a driver program.
On the open road, Taylor said there are different types of driver situations. Some married couples will drive tandem together across the country, and other drivers, depending on the company, can have their four-legged friends accompany them.
To learn more about becoming a truck driver in Kentucky, click here: Kentucky Trucking Association