DDS opens new training center to help ease national shortage of truck drivers

CONYERS, Ga. — If you can't find what you need at your local grocery store, it could be because there aren't enough truck drivers to get it there.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot went to Rockdale County on Thursday, where a new trucking school is hoping to train more drivers and get them out on the road.

There was a truck driver shortage even before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Many states identify those drivers as critical workers to get goods from one end of the country to the other.

According to trucking industry statistics, trucks deliver 71% of everything we buy in every store we visit, including groceries.

“We have 8.2 million licensed drivers in Georgia. Only 362,000 of them are commercial motor vehicle drivers,” said Spencer Moore of the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

That’s why Gov. Brian Kemp and other state officials went to Conyers on Thursday to cut the ribbon on a brand-new truck driver training academy.

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It’s a school to teach people how to handle the big rigs on the open road.

Brad Barber founded the Georgia Driving Academy more than 20 years ago. The Conyers site will be the school's second training location in the state and the first in metro Atlanta.

Barber said shortages of food and other supply chain disruptions during this pandemic can be tied directly to the shortage of truck drivers. That’s why, he says, getting new drivers on the road is so critical.

“The need for drivers is going to be even more critical as we come out of this pandemic. We got to get those shelves full, and the only way to do that is through drivers,” Barber said.

“One of the first calls I received when this pandemic hit was a call from Brad Barber reminding me the importance of the CDL community to getting through this crisis,” Moore said.

The new Conyers academy is already training new truck drivers.