Truck Driver Shortage Inspired Teacher to Spend His Summer OTR
Dave Dein teaches at one of the first high school truck driving programs in the country in Patterson, California. In Dein’s course, students learn the basics of driving large commercial trucks and can even use a simulator to help them practice how to handle problems that can occur on the road. But last summer he got out of the classroom and into the truck to help with a severe driver shortage.
“We are going to lose about 25% of our drivers over the next 5 years because they are just aging out,” Dein says.
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the U.S. was already short over 60,000 drivers in 2019. Unless recruitment efforts improve, that number is expected to soar to over 100,000 by 2023, according to ATA’s chief economist Bob Costello.
The U.S. has been struggling with an insufficient number of drivers for years, mainly due to lifestyle considerations such as getting home regularly and how many drivers are treated by their companies, shippers, and receivers. But the problem has become even more severe during the coronavirus outbreak, in large part due to the pandemic’s limiting effect on DMVs and truck driver schools. Without enough drivers, the trucking industry has become another bottleneck in a supply chain that has been suffering throughout the entire pandemic.
“It’s one of those careers that maybe people haven’t really thought a lot about until the store shelves started running empty. In the long run, it is going to affect everyone,” Dein explains.
Some American companies are even trying to bring in drivers from abroad to help. But that process is not without its challenges such as visa limits and complicated immigration rules - two more issues made even more difficult during a global pandemic.
Dein knows the importance of the program he teaches both for the trucking industry and his students. He has seen students who may struggle in traditional educational settings excel in his classroom. These programs are needed for vulnerable kids who need to find their own path and be in a learning environment where they can feel successful.
In fact, Dein is so passionate about it that he is putting all of his summer earnings into a scholarship fund for his students via the Next Generation In Trucking Foundation, which he co-founded. The foundation is a non-profit trade association that promotes trucking to our nation’s youth and helps them access both training and employment opportunities. It fills a gap as many schools do not have the resources to research and recommend the trucking industry as a viable career path.
“I have seen lives transformed because of this class. That’s the reason I do this, because it’s needed,” Dein says.
We love Dein's hands on approach to filling the gap in the driver pool. If you're interested in getting into the trucking industry or you know someone who is, give us a call. We are passionate about connecting people to education and resources to start their trucking career.