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INDIANAPOLIS – The American Trucking Association reports the driver shortage has risen to an all-time high. The Chief Economist for the association said the current driver shortage has risen to 80,000.

With a shortage of drivers, industry leaders expect that this will impact our holiday season.

This year, there are fewer truck drivers hitting the road, but the demand is much higher.

“We’ve seen freight levels increase to a degree that I’ve never seen certainly in my career,” said Greg Richardson, the Vice President of Human Resources for Estes Express Lines.

Industry experts say the holiday season will make this bad situation worse. At Estes Express Lines, drivers are picking up millions of pounds of freight each day. Referrals are helping hire some drivers, but dozens of positions remain open.

“We’re working hard to help bridge the gap the best we can, but I think the holiday season exasperates that and makes it a little bit harder,” Richardson added.

The shortage is also being felt at Fraley and Schilling Trucking in Rushville.

“We’re just now feeling the impacts of that a year later,” said Vice President of Operations, Mike Bussberg.

Increased demand and pandemic challenges from early retirements to closed driving schools has added to the shortage, according to the American Trucking Association.

“It’s been probably the worst environment for drivers that we’ve seen in the history of the industry,” said Mark Allen, the President and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association.

He says, even if you plan to buy an experience instead of a product this holiday season, the driver shortage impact will be noticed.

“As a consumer goes to a restaurant or a movie theater or an arena to enjoy a show and sees food prices going up, part of that is product and labor, but part of that is transportation too,” said Allen.

One way to get more drivers is to pay more. IFDA drivers make roughly 80,000 dollars a year. That’s up 13% from eight months ago. Allen says, another solution, reach younger drivers.

“Today the average age of a person going into a driver training program is 35 years old,” explained Allen, “So they’ve already had an entire other career before they hit driving.”

Allen, along with 95 trucking organizations sent a letter to President Biden last week asking for help. In hopes of fixing the supply chain problems and getting more drivers behind the wheel.

“I would encourage everyone to shop early and shop fast,” said Richardson.

In order to keep up with demand, the American Trucking Association says, the trucking industry will need to recruit nearly one million new drivers over the next decade.