CDL training program aims to answer national truck driver shortage

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ROCKY MOUNT, NC (WITN) - The holiday season here and many of us are spending more time than usual shopping for gifts and goods for our friends and families.

Few of us ever think about how those items in the department store, grocery store, and other retailers are delivered and stocked on the store shelves we pull them from.

"Companies are in desperate need of keeping the stores stocked especially during the holiday season," said Amy Cressionnie, commercial driver's license program director at Nash Community College.

A national truck driver shortage could soon impact the availability and/or price of some products.

More drivers are needed to step up and get behind the wheel and companies are offering incentives such as new equipment and good pay to encourage prospective employees.

At Nash Community College, CDL program coordinator Gary Bunn said the shortage is the result of a robust economy.

"If products are moving then there is a demand for drivers," Bunn said.

People looking for a change in careers are taking notice.

"I wanted to do something new where I could earn money and provide a good living for my family," said Joseph Bullock, a CDL program student.

Bullock recently enrolled in the Sage commercial driver's license training program.

"Everyone I talked to, they told me if this is something I'd be interested in, right now is the best time to do it," he said. "The possibilities are endless for what you can do... it's something where the harder I work, the more I can earn."

The program is one-month long and successful students finish with their commercial driver's license ready to fill one of about 50,000 open positions.

Program coordinators say their enrollment numbers are up as more students like Bullock see the opportunity in trucking.

Cressionnie said they usually average around 100 students each year but that number has nearly doubled for 2018.

"I don't think people realize everything you have and use is brought by a truck," she said.

Since the national truck driver shortage affects everyone, the industry is working to shine light on the issue and tackle it head on. The American Trucking Association says if current trends hold, the shortage of drivers could grow to more than 174,000 by 2026 and consumers should expect to see the prices of goods reflect the shortage.