Truck driver shortage a problem for Ala., nation

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Experts say 90 percent of what we eat, wear, and use everyday are delivered on 18 wheels.

Montgomery resident Jackie Bozeman has nearly 25 years of trucking experience.

"Mostly long haul, but I ran some short haul too. I ran in about 35 states," Bozeman said.

He retired last year and then started driving again part-time for a local company. He is also a fill-in instructor at the Trenholm State Technical College Truck Driving Center.

"There's always work available even in a recessed economy, there is still work available for those who are qualified to drive," Bozeman said.

You have to be 21, pass a physical and basically have an impeccable driving record. You are also away from your family for several weeks. And that can be tough on a lot of drivers.

Tim Frazier with the Alabama Trucking Association says tougher federal regulations are now limiting drivers and forcing companies to hire more drivers.

"It's strict. The hours he can work in a day, the miles he can run in a day. Industry wide it's tough on moving freight. We're not seeing as many young folks going that we did at one time," Frazier said.

Truck driver students at Trenholm State just started classes a week ago. They're eager to reduce the high turnover rate which rose from 39 percent in 2010 to 90 percent in the first quarter of this year.

23-year-old Michael Kelliher says he is up for the challenge on the road and looks forward to the adventure he says pays well.

"I'm serious about this, wanting to get into and I feel ready and I'm hoping to get into as soon as I can and I'm looking forward to it," Kelliher said.

It's estimated that 175,000 people hold CDL licenses in Alabama.

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