BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Whether it’s groceries, cars or clothes, products are getting backed up in ports on the coast because there are no truck drivers to pick them up and take them to their destination, threatening a crisis going into the holiday season.
“I think it’s really important to understand that virtually every good that you use in your daily life depends on a truck driver,” said Louis Campion, president and CEO of Maryland Motor Truck Association.READ MORE: 7 Shot, Including 5 Teenagers, In West Baltimore Friday Night
The American Trucking Association said there was a shortage of about 60,000 truck drivers before the pandemic. Now, they’re projecting a need for about 105,000 new truck drivers by 2023.
“Virtually every company that I speak with could use drivers tomorrow if they were available,” said Campion.
Campion said this truck driver shortage is nothing new, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.
“It’s a challenge that’s been going on for a number of years,” said Campion.
The state also heavily relies on the trucking industry.READ MORE: ‘We Want To Prevent This From Happening Again’ Witnesses Describe Deadly Collision Between Fire Truck And Dirt Bike Rider In Baltimore As Advocates Call For Solutions
“In Maryland, 93% of communities have no other way to receive their goods. Meaning, they don’t have major rail access or port access or air access, so in 93% of those communities, the only way that they get their goods is by truck,” said Campion.
That’s why companies are working around the clock to recruit new drivers, offering incentives like better pay, scholarships, and targeting the younger population.
“I think now more than ever, the resilience and integrity of the supply chain really need to be preserved if we want to protect our economic, the way of life,” said Campion.
As container ships continue to sit outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, here at the Port of Baltimore, officials said they’re not experiencing any supply chain congestion issues.
“The Port of Baltimore is not experiencing supply chain congestion issues that are impacting other ports. Our most recent figures from August showed containers up 12 percent year over year,” said William P. Doyle, Port of Baltimore Executive Director. “In fact, due to congestion at other ports we have recently attracted two new container services totaling 21 new ships. We have many local distribution centers, an excellent truck and rail network, and very skilled longshore workers which all contribute to reasons why containers move efficiently through the Port of Baltimore.”MORE NEWS: 'It's Ridiculous': Drivers React To Increase In Gas Prices
There are some encouraging signs for the trucking industry in Maryland. Campion said they’re seeing a dramatic increase in people applying for their commercial drivers license. They’re also partnering up with a high school to launch the state’s first program that would streamline the process to become a truck driver after graduation.