Truck driver shortage is impacting St. Louis economy

ST. LOUIS - There's a trucker shortage across the U.S. and we're also seeing the impact in St. Louis.

According to the American Trucking Associations, there's a shortage of roughly 50,000 truck drivers across the country right now.

The students at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park are getting 5-8 eight job offers each when they graduate from the training program.

A nationwide truck driver shortage has students like Mohamad Osman traveling down a new career path.

He says, "There’s a lot of high demand right now for truck drivers and there’s a career guarantee so I want to give this a shot and see where it will take me.”

The demand for truckers is driving up wages. They make between $35,000- $60,000 a year.

The American Trucking Association reports that the trucking industry will need to hire nearly 900,000 new drivers over the next decade to make up for the number of retiring drivers along with a growing demand for transport.

That's 90,000 trucking students per year, that will need to be trained.

"Not only is it a challenge to hire drivers for this industry but it’s also a challenge for me to hire good instructors,” said Rene Dulle, St. Louis Community College.

Congress is considering a bill that would lower the commercial driving age across state lines from 21 to 18 in part to help with the driver shortage, but it's causing some controversy.

“At 18 what I’ve been ready personally probably not to be honest about it but everybody’s different," said Osman.

"The fact that that Bill has a mandate for 240 hours of driving time and 400 hours of on-duty time you’re looking at and about after school you’re looking at about six weeks of training,” said Seth Owens, truck driver instructor.

This program has been going on for the past four years at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, and they've graduated about 600 students. Tuition for the program is about $5,000, but there are some grants and other options to cover those costs.