Marianna- Terry Thomas has been driving big rigs for 25 years. "The benefits are, I've got three kids through college, I've been married 27 years, I've got a strong family background. But the sacrifice is, I spend a lot of time away from home" Thomas said.
Brent Woodside has been driving his truck for a year. "I've always been infatuated with big trucks" he said. "Now I'm [driving] and I'm [driving] as long as I can stay."
Whatever their reasons for driving, Thomas and Woodside acknowledged they were both members of a shrinking breed. The American Trucking Association estimated the industry needed as many as 30,000 additional drivers. The current shortage began a decade ago, but some drivers told us the root of the problem was generational.
"If we were to get more percentage for our load I think more people would get into it. The younger generation looks for ways of not working as hard as the older generation does" explained driver, Alexander Anderson.
Friday, we asked the drivers what they thought was causing the industry to face shortages. Interestingly, neither the rookies nor veterans were surprised by the drop in drivers, but for two very different reasons.
Woodside thought fewer people were willing to take on the trucking lifestyle."If you like driving and can run 5-600 miles a day, try trucking" he told us.
But Thomas said he believed there was another issue at hand.
"A lot more guys are getting out of the industry because of the new regulations coming in. The government is forcing the older guys out."
He also said he thought the overall future for big rigs was bleak.
"I don't even look to the future of trucking" Thomas said. "It's hard to base anything off of trucking- fuel's up, driver pay has never raised. It's a big turn around in the industry."
Some experts speculated that fewer drivers could lead to higher transportation costs, which could in turn, drive up the price of products for consumers.