Trucking executive: What it will take to fix our driver shortage

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Would you believe that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has finally acknowledged what the average family has known for months: supply chain issues are real and they’re strangling out nation’s economy.

I may not have gone to Princeton and Georgetown Universities like our esteemed Fed chair, but spending the last 35 years growing a trucking company from a fleet of one to over a hundred has given me a first-hand education on supply chain economics and how we ended up in this mess. 

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Our supply chain problems are only going to get worse until we get new leadership in Washington.

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A major cause of this crisis is our dependence on China and their willingness to intentionally damage our economy. It’s not just cheap consumer products we get from China but mission-critical components that our domestic industries depend on. 

So, when China decides to shut down the Meishan Terminal in the Ningbo-Zhoushan port for 10 days because one person tests positive for COVID, that one dock worker with the sniffles becomes the butterfly that creates a tornado on the other side of the Pacific.

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The stop-and-start of port activity exposes and exacerbates a bigger crisis here in the U.S. that I’ve watched fester for generations: our trucking industry faces a historic driver shortage, ever-worsening infrastructure, and crippling regulations.

Trucking executive Mike Collins (Courtesy Mike Collins)

The most onerous regulation contributing to the driver shortage is the minimum driving age of 21. Because trucking companies typically require two years of experience for long-haul work, the unofficial minimum age for our most needed drivers is twenty-three. 

This has led to a shortage in truckers that has never been more evident now that our ports are backed up due to COVID-related delays.

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Trucks today are a lot safer, more automated, and easier to drive now than they were when these age regulations were implemented. There is no reason high schools can’t put young people on a vocational track so they can graduate able to drive a truck at eighteen.

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Further, our nation’s badly neglected infrastructure is requiring more trucks than necessary to do the job of delivering America’s freight. 

Joe Biden wants to spend trillions on fake "infrastructure" like critical race theory and "climate change," but what we need is investment in real infrastructure like highways and bridges to optimize the efficiency of our existing trucking fleet.

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We need other reforms, too. It’s long past time to pull back on the many onerous environmental and safety regulations that push up operating costs beyond profitability, idling trucks in the process. 

We also need federal liability and tort reform so that the threat of frivolous lawsuits does not scare good drivers out of the industry.

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Thomas Jefferson’s vision for Congress was an assembly of citizen legislators because they would bring with them the real-world experience that a government requires to make wise, informed decisions. 

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Right now, that wisdom on this critical issue is badly lacking. That’s one of the reasons I’m running for congress as an America First Republican who won’t hesitate to roll his sleeves up and get his hands dirty to solve our supply chain problems.

 Mike Collins is the owner and executive of a trucking company located in Jackson, Georgia and is a candidate in Georgia’s 10th Congressional district.

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