Special Report: Truck driver shortage causing consumer prices to rise

Whether shopping online or in the store, the items you are looking for are often out of stock and priced higher than expected.

Many times that is due to a certain material not being available and production is affected.

In a FOX 32 Special Report, Anthony Ponce takes a look at another shortage that is affecting the supply chain — and you.

Raul Rodriguez has been a truck driver for 15 years.

"It’s fun. Getting in this big rig every day. It’s just an adventure every day," Rodriguez said.

Based out of their Forest View service center, he has been hitting the road for the last decade for Old Dominion Freight Line.

"We carry all kinds of stuff. From food to freight. We haul it all," Rodriguez said.

Seventy-percent of all consumer goods are transported by truck.


Right now, the trucking industry needs a few more good drivers — like Rodriguez. Sixty-thousand to be exact.

According to the American Trucking Association, that is how many are needed nationwide to end the current truck driver shortage.

Another 1.1 million are needed to meet industry demands for over the next decade.

"It’s a really tight situation for truck companies. Not only do we have a low unemployment, there’s benefits out there. There’s concerns about safety about the pandemic. All that’s led to this huge shortage of over the road truck drivers," said DePaul University Transportation Professor Joe Schwieterman.

Old Dominion recently held a job fair to attract new drivers to the business.

"Chicagoland is a very big market," said Tom Doyle, Service Center Manager at Old Dominion Freight Line. "So we’ve never really struggled with hiring drivers."

"I think right now because the demand is at all levels, I think is much more challenging," he added.

Jennifer Goodwin showed up looking to make a career change.

"I was in the restaurant industry and with COVID, it closed down," Goodwin said. "So I just decided to get a different career."

Not only are more women applying to be truck drivers, so are couples. They are definitely in demand because they can keep moving 24-7. Some companies, like Old Dominion, are even offering couples a $5,000 hiring bonus.

"We want teams more than anything else," said Daiva Malukas.

Malukas owns HMD Trucking in Chicago Ridge. Her company is also hard at work trying to find new drivers. She has groups of employees whose primary job is to recruit drivers.

Malukas says her recruiters have their work cut out for them because this shortage is a lot worse than previous ones.

"Before when you had a shortage you can put in an ad and find the drivers," Malukas said. "Now you put in an ad and sometimes nobody calls."

"I think it’s COVID and you can still see people collecting those paychecks from the government," she added.

When it comes to consumers buying what they want and when they want, Malukas points out the driver shortage is not the only thing impacting the trucking industry.

"I don’t think it’s not enough equipment too," she said. "If we want to buy more trailers, we have to wait because of a shortage of equipment…it’s not enough parts if the truck gets broken. It’s hard to get the parts…it’s just a shortage I think everywhere."

"This one’s gonna persist. I mean we have a strong economy and we have a real demand for the types of labor that is often used for trucks," Schwieterman said.

The companies and experts we talked to say there are often truck driver shortages due to the nature of the job and the benefits and pay some businesses offer. However, many trucking companies are working to offer improved pay and benefits to retain more drivers — where some drivers can earn around $100,000 a year.

Another effort to help solve the shortage is the re-introduction of the Drive Safe Act in the US Senate. The legislation would lower the age for long-haul truck drivers to make cross country trips from 21 to 18-years-old.