More women becoming truckers, but supply chain issues remain a challenge for industry

CONLEY, Ga. — Supply chain problems continue to impact our lives every day.

“I’ve been to four stores today, so I’m an expert. Four grocery stores trying to find stuff,” Coleman Goodwin said.

The trucking industry plays a vital role in the supply chain.

“80% of all the freight that moves, moves on trucks, so you are not going to have much of anything if a truck’s not involved,” said Ed Crowell, president and CEO of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association.

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However, there is a shortage of drivers.

Brad Ball is opening a truck driving school in Conley, Georgia, next month to fill employment gaps.

“In a short period of time, we went from 60,000 drivers short to the current estimate of about 80,000 drivers short,” Ball said. “We need a lot of truck drivers right now, especially in Conley, Georgia.”

More minorities and women are getting into the industry because of the job opportunities.

“The industry and the way we operate is actually getting better and more friendly for women. Less of the three-week-long, stay-away-from-home trips,” Crowell said.

Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association, agrees.

“It has increased a lot. When I started, women in trucking, it was about 3% female truck drivers. We see now over 10%,” she said.

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Ingrid Brown has been a truck driver for 42 years.

“There’s not anybody in this world that can’t do what I do,” she said.

But she admits the supply chain problem is hitting truckers hard, mostly because of worker shortages in warehouses.

“Because the supply chain went like this, truck brought it in but there was nobody in the warehouse to unload it because the staffing is so skeleton,” she said.

Sometimes she’s left waiting nine hours with other truckers.

“For us as drivers, this is hitting us hard because we are sitting and all of our time, our hours of service, are being crushed,” Brown said.

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Another problem for truckers is getting supplies that are needed for maintenance on their trucks.

“Parts that needed to be shipped out weren’t there in time and so we’ve had trucks idle because they couldn’t get repaired and couldn’t get back on the road,” Crowell said.

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