Trucker shortage creates openings for long-haul drivers

FRESNO, California

Despite the tight economy, the American Trucking Association says the industry is still short of long-haul drivers.

Big rigs on Highway 99 help transport many of your favorite foods, products and machinery. Moving freight up and down the state isn't a problem for trucking companies. But cross-country jobs are harder to fill.

Jose Sandoval is a truck driving instructor for Proteus. The program trains farm workers like Marco Garcia and helps them find work once they finish their training. Sandoval said, "A lot of them are over the road. We've been placing a lot of them local also, especially right now with the season, tomatoes and stuff like that. A lot of Ag work."

Sandoval says long haul jobs offer more opportunity. But the drivers he trains all want to stay local because they don't want to spend weeks away from their families. He explained, "Actually I tell them if they go on the road it's a better chance for them for experience and they come back after six months to a year, they're going to have a lot of doors open for local work."

Trucking company owner Jim Ganduglia said the trucker shortage does not apply to California. A line of idle rigs shows how many of his drivers are waiting for work. Ganduglia said, "They're not sitting there because I like to see green and yellow paint parked against my fence. It's because the economy stinks."

Ganduglia ships freight around the state. Everything from Ag fertilizer to chemicals. He said, "We've got customers where they were shipping 10 loads a day are now shipping maybe five. Most often none. It goes from feast to famine from one day to the next."

Ganduglia says he recently had to lay off four drivers -- A first since Jim's father started the company back in 1939.

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