Truck Driver Shortage Could Mean Higher Prices In Store Aisles

When strolling down the store aisles, shoppers might forget how all those products arrived on at their final destination on shelves, ready for the plucking. Many times it’s truckers that get the bottles of beer on the wall and the newest gadgets in stock, but what happens when there aren’t enough drivers to go around? Prices for consumers an go up, a new report says.

The truck driver shortage is partly due to a harsh winter, new federal regulations, and a higher number of items that need shopping. Top that all off with rising fuel costs and it’s getting harder for companies to ship products where they need to be when they need to be there, and at a reasonable price, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Anything considered a consumer product could potentially be affected, all because we’re willing to spend right now. That demand for stuff triggers a need for more raw goods and then there’s more merchandise to eventually ship. Someone’s gotta drive those big containers around, after all.

But there just aren’t enough truckers, the American Trucking Associations says: Right now there are 3.2 million drivers and about 30,000 more are needed. It’s all part of an ongoing problem that slowed down during the recent recession, but keeps growing as the economy gets better.

“Our business is picking up. Then we need more trucks on the road to deliver our product. The trucks get filled right to the top. … You have to make hay when the sun shines,” the president of one beer distributor said of the current buying boom. “People are now gainfully employed again, and beer’s a recreational commodity.”

Another part of the problem? Federal trucking regulations covering how many hours truckers can work changed — those hours have been limited and drivers can only restart the work clock after sitting out for 34 hours. That limits productivity, the industry says, prompting trucking companies to charge more, setting off a increased prices for raw materials and then, the items on shelves themselves.

In case you want to do us all a favor and help keep those prices down, the median income for a truck driver is $38,200, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent data from 2012.

Truck driver shortage, other troubles could push up prices for consumers [Detroit Free Press]

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