Truckers wanted: Demand booms for qualified drivers - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Truckers wanted: Demand booms for qualified drivers

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PHOENIX -

Interstate 10 is one of the primary cross-country arteries for commerce in the United States. And it's hard to believe, with all of the semi-trucks crowding the lanes of traffic daily, there aren't nearly enough drivers to meet growing economic demands.

The fact that it's difficult to find enough truck drivers to meet the nation's need for those long freight hauls isn't news. It's been that way for a decade.

But with new regulation and retirements, it's going to be even tougher to get those big rigs back on the road again.

As Americans, we still have a romanticized view of the open road -- just not a burning desire to get behind the wheel of a big rig.

"Yeah it's a hard life but for my family got to do what I have to do for my family," says Michael Way.

Michael Way just graduated from the AIT Truck Driving School and after the instability of jumping between jobs, he's ready to get rolling.

"The way I look at it is, this is the life's blood of America, especially the economy now."

Michael could make about $40,000 his first year after just four months of part-time training. And there are tens of thousands of jobs for truckers every year that go unfilled.

"if you're just trying to get in and get out on the road, usually about four weeks you can be in and out and out there, making that kind of paycheck," says Noah Pierce, AIT truck driver training.

"Truck driving is a learned skill, it's just like any other skill, practice practice practice," says instructor John Keys.

Instructor John Keys risked life and limb to allow FOX 10's Dan Spindle behind the wheel. Turns out it was harder than it looked.

It's not for everyone -- but the shortage could reach a critical level when the economy gets stronger.

"Trucking hasn't really been affected by it and honestly when the economy does start to bounce back, its only going to boost it more. When people start to spend more money there's more freight to go more places," says Pierce.

80 percent of the nation's cargo is carried to the store shelves on semi-trucks, but only about 10 percent of the drivers needed qualify each year to hit the road.

They will need to somehow revamp the industry and attract new drivers in the coming years or else the cost of goods will go up dramatically.

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