A Trucking Problem That Will Affect Us All

The opinion below is from  a wise friend who is a Trucker named Marty Johnson. I think he has some good thoughts on solving  the problems he points out about getting our goods from point A to point B. We all need to share the cost of fixing the problem at the city and state level.

Many years ago a community was built outside of Olympia, WA. where I lived. This community was built to accommodate an insurance company and its employees. The on and off ramps to I-5 were  built by private, non-union workers, not associated with the state or federal government. The project came in under budget and sooner than expected.  After telling Marty this story he shared some thoughts on costs of roads, and problems he saw facing America in the future

Here is what Marty had to say.

“In case anyone has missed it, I am an Over The Road truck driver. There is a lot of talk recently that there is a truck driver shortage. As with any job/career if there aren’t enough people to do a specific task, there is a shortage. Driving a truck or programming a computer or any job is dependent on how many people you can lure into the occupation to do that task. For instance, it is said that if the border is adequately controlled, there will be a shortage of people to harvest all of the crops that require people to do the work. At this point I would ask, if you paid what the job was worth, wouldn’t you get more people to apply and do the work? Of course, but the people that are shipping the products in trucks, or growing the crops would have to take a hit in their profits, or they would have to charge more for the products that they ship or grow, which would end up being paid for by everyone – THAT MEANS YOU AND I.

So that comes down to a couple of things, that are related. In a report by Morgan Stanley, they are predicting a shortage of 80,000 drivers by the year 2020. Let’s for a second ignore the driver pay and increase in food costs and look at the rest of the things that are affected by increasing the drivers so they can have our breakfast delivered to your grocery stores so there isn’t a FOOD shortage.
So now you have 80,000 new trucks, trailers and drivers on the road. How will the roads accommodate all that new traffic? Have you ever had to try to drive in Atlanta Georgia at any time during daylight hours? Again, I am a driver and know that if I attempt to go AROUND Atlanta, because trucks are not allowed through the city, you will have a delay that can be up to 4 hours because of traffic. Lets add more trucks to the existing traffic and what will be that outcome. Houston is the same, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, and most major metropolitan areas. I won’t even comment on NY City because I will no longer drive within 100 miles of that city. Let it be said that the traffic would be HORRIBLE.

Now let’s look at something that affects ONLY the truck drivers; and that is parking. We are very strictly regulated by electronic logs that can tell when you move the truck and if you disable the device, your company can tell and you are fired, so we can put that idea aside. Regulations require you shut down the truck for a period of 10 hours after a maximum of 11 hours of driving in a 14 hour period. Now you obviously have to park the truck. There is currently a MASSIVE parking problem to the point that you will soon see, if you don’t already, trucks parked on the on and off ramps to the freeways. That creates a traffic hazard for some persons that can hardly drive their cars straight in the first place. One glance away from the road, a tired moment and you will be slamming into a 40 ton truck.

So the problem is threefold.
1. We don’t have enough drivers to move the cargo that we need to move.
2. We don’t have enough roads to move the increased trucks if we find the drivers to move it.
3. We don’t have enough places to park the trucks once we find the drivers and roadways to move the cargo.

Focusing on the “Driver Shortage” is only one step of a 3 step process and everyone has been asleep on this issue. Now it’s time to look at it logically and NOT rely on the FEDERAL government to do it for us. The manufacturers and the STATES need to figure this out without making it a national issue.”

About Martha (Marty) Dickson Patterson

Marty: Retired from sales and management near Seattle, Washington.
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