Trucker shortage across the country

FRESNO, California

Most of the steady jobs in trucking are for long haul drivers. With a pay range of from $35 to $50 thousand a year it may sound like an appealing career, but it isn't for everybody.

Being a truck driver is Daniel Villanueva's goal. He's just finishing a six week truck driving course. "Tomorrow I actually go in and take my driving test at the DMV."

Daniel and fellow student Juan Rios are getting their training through Proteus, a nonprofit training and job placement agency. Both have been seasonal agricultural workers, and are hoping truck driving provides something steady.

Rios said, "I've had a lot of jobs around here, but the thing is, you have to provide for your family."

Their instructor, Jose Sandoval says these guys are typical of the students he trains. He said, "We're getting a lot of people that want better jobs. Better money. The economy is slow, they come to truck driving.

The long haul trucking industry has a lot of openings. Many older truckers are retiring, but many who start out quit. Because it's not easy.

"No it's not, it's tough especially if you have a family," Sandoval said. "Being gone from 15 to 20 days at a time, then coming home for two or three days, it's pretty tough."

Driver Patrick O'Neill knows all about that. He's from Louisiana and has been driving for 18 years. He said, "It's a good living, you can't make money sitting at home."

He's got a big family back in Louisiana, five kids.

O'Neill added, "Nine grandbabies number ten on the way."

But he's on the road, hauling chemicals for a month at a time.

Action News asked, "Do you miss your family?"

"All the time, pictures and talk to them on the phone all the time," said O'Neill.

He recommends the job for anyone who's prepared to make it a way of life.

"Oh yeah, if they are going to stick with it," O'Neill said. "If they are not going to stick with it no. But, it they are going to stick with it, yeah, like I said, it's a way of life."

Aspiring truck drivers like Daniel Villanueva hear the highway calling and hope the road leads to a better life.

"Truck driving, it's never going to go away," Villanueva said. "Everybody is going to need truck drivers."

The American Trucking Association claims there's a 90 percent turnover in long haul trucking jobs every year. The truck drivers we spoke with said they weren't aware of any shortage.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.