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Trucking companies paying big bonuses for qualified drivers

Truckers tractor trailer semi trucks
Posted at 6:30 PM, Nov 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 11:25:29-05

The supply chain crisis is greatly impacting locally owned businesses. There is a need for truck drivers to haul and deliver goods in Florida.

Eric Lamb is the owner of Windy City Pizza in Delray Beach. His shop, like many others in the area, is being impacted daily by the supply chain crisis. Lamb said it is becoming more severe, especially for filling inventory of non-food items.

"To get things like foam boxes, take-out containers, small plastic containers, plastic cups, and napkins are becoming not available to us,” said Lamb.

Lamb says suppliers are beginning to take away options and only have certain items available. Appetizers, in general, are becoming a problem too.

"To continue to carry the same products in this business, we want consistency. To carry the same mozzarella sticks that you came in last week, and then you come here for this week, and I have to change the product based upon the chain supply issue,” said Lamb.

Alix Miller is the President of the Florida Trucking Association. She says some trucking companies are now paying sign-up bonuses -- as high as $15,000 to attract more qualified drivers.

"Are suffering from an extreme driver shortage right now. We need 80,000 drivers at two to be able to replenish goods,” said Miller.

Miller believes a change in federal rules to lower the age of truck drivers to 18 to hauling goods between states would have an impact.

"So that means that we're losing an entire demographic. Those students who are graduating from high school are choosing other fields, rather than going into the trucking industry,” said Miller.

Lamb said he's transparent with his customers about the challenges they face but remains optimistic.

"You have to change the entire way you operate a little bit. We're going to make it through no matter what,” said Lamb.

The Florida Trucking Association hopes to get Congress to pass the Drive Safe Act. It would essentially lift a rule restricting 18 to 20-year-olds from driving commercial goods across state lines as a possible solution to the shortages.