Truck driver shortage could cause fueling challenges

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Fueling up this summer could be a challenge for some, but the concern is not just gas supply. 

Groendyke Transport is a company that fuels many stations in Kansas. Talent Office vice president Holly McCormick said summer travel is the busiest season and a driver shortage has the company in overdrive to find tank truck drivers. 

“You may have to go across the street, or you may only be able to get one type of unleaded, not premium, things of that nature,” said McCormick. “When the volume is up, but the driver count is down, we can’t haul all the loads to meet the volume.”

The pandemic created the perfect storm. McCormick said the shutdown lowered the demand for drivers which had many retiring early and leaving the industry.

“I could use 150 drivers, today, and put them all to work,” said McCormick. 

It also idled getting a license for those in driving school. Kansas Truck Driver Training manager Ann Bauze said her school took a hit. 

“We did have to shut down for quite a while during the pandemic and then once we reopened. we had to scale back our training program due to the COVID restrictions,” said Bauze. 

Bauza said this reduced the number of training graduates by 50% in one year. She said with 350,000 jobs available nationwide, the need is great. 

“Companies are increasing pay consistently to recruit that driver to get them to come to work for them,” said Bauze. 

Bauze said that once people get their license, employers are quick to hire. She said the average pay is $70,000 a year. 

McCormick is a part of the National Tank Truck Association. The group is working on legislation to lower the age of tank drivers from 23 to 21 which could help. 

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“If we can’t get enough drivers to haul it, that could severely impact our economy,” said McCormick. “We’re just getting the word out that this is a viable good career for people to look at going forward.”

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