TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Have you noticed an increase in prices at the store or perhaps places running out of inventory?
A nationwide truck driver shortage is affecting Green Country from groceries to lumber and landscaping.
Chase O'Shea, the owner of Chase Lawn and Landscape, is one of many local business owners feeling the pressure caused by the shortage.
He plans to drive his own vehicle to Kansas City to get the materials needed to get his work done.
"So we can get the ball rolling here," O'Shea said, "If we didn't do that, we'd probably wait another month for that stone to come in by their actual shipping company."
Landscaping isn't the only industry being impacted.
Jacob Lliteras, account manager, and John Christner Trucking, Inc. in Sapulpa, said they specialize in transporting refrigerated products.
"They're paying more money for transportation services so you may see that increased price at the grocery store if you haven't seen it already I think I've noticed it personally myself," Lliteras said.
JCT has noticed a demand since last summer.
"Usually there's some seasonality to these issues," Lliteras said, "But this has been pretty consistent since July of 2020."
The reasons as to why this is happening to seem to vary.
Donnie Tulk, program director for Tulsa Tech's Professional Truck Driver Training, has a theory.
"I believe there are drivers that are aging out," Tulk said, "The median age of a truck driver is 52-years-old."
Tulsa Tech is training the next crop of drivers. They have a waitlist of applicants, but typically train about 100 new truckers a year.
"Without trucks, everything in America stops," Tulk said.
Now is a good time to start learning with companies like JCT increasing pay several times in the last year and offering sign-on bonuses.
However, drivers spend countless hours on the road, and because of the pandemic, Lliteras said, many faced more challenges such as rest stops being shut down.
"I think driver fatigue is maybe a big part of it," Lliteras said, "We tend to think some of the benefits people are receiving now versus any normal unemployment benefit maybe sidelines some drivers as well."
He's glad demand for drivers is up and the company is paying drivers what they deserve.
In the meantime, local businesses are asking for grace.
"Just be patient with your contractor that you use because they're doing the best they can," O'Shea said.
One problem Tulsa Tech mentioned is that their program is for folks 18+ but only those 21+ are allowed to drive outside of the state.
Right now, there's a Drive Safe Act in Congress that would decrease that age requirement.