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Lack of young long-haul truckers concerns industry

PHOENIX — The next generation of long-haul truckers is likely going to be a small group.

While the nation’s economy is showing signs of life, even with unemployment hovering around 8 percent, trucking companies are having a hard time finding drivers.

Some experts believe the United States may be heading toward a critical shortage of truck drivers in the next few years. Justus Speed with CDL Truck School in Phoenix said many current drivers have been on the road for a long time and won’t be behind the wheel forever.

“That’s a rough job being on the road for 10 hours or so,” he said.

Speed said most of the younger generation has no desire to see the county piloting a big rig and it will take more money to get them interested. He has seen a dropoff in students.

“It could pay better,” he said.

The average wage for truckers is $37,000 per year, according to the U.S. Deptartment of Labor. Some drivers earn almost $60,000 per year.

Trucking accounts for 80 percent of America’s cargo shipping and Speed said it’s vital to get the younger generation interested.

“Most of the younger people are single or have a family with children,” he said. “It’s a tossup weighing that family and being gone for days or weeks.”