Rollin' Rally aims to pique interest in kids amidst truck shortage

Published: Jun. 23, 2018 at 6:31 PM CDT
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Kirkwood Community College's first ever Rollin' Rally started its engine today in Cedar Rapids. As the nation continues to see a truck driver shortage, the event aimed to get more in the driver's seat.

Amelia Wash came to Rollin Rally to learn more about trucks, but at this point, she has no intention to be a truck driver.

"I wanna be a firefighter when I grow up," said Wash. "The trucks are red, my favorite color."

Whatever the reason may be, specialists say an aging trucking population has left only about 500 thousand long-haul, 18 wheel drivers in the country.

"Municipalities have various roles that need drivers, emergency services, technician roles dealerships," said Hummer Trucking President Chris Hummer.

Hummer said the need doesn't stop with just the drivers themselves.

"There's various careers driving and we're really trying to highlight not only the need for drivers, the type of equipment they can operate," said Hummer.

A possible solution is technology updates in the vehicles. Patrick McGill with National Advanced Driving Simulator said autonomous vehicles may not only fill the driver void, but be safer as well.

"People get tired, computers don't," said McGill. "The safety aspect is a big part of it. Humans are responsible for lots of traffic fatalities and deaths. Autonomous driving, while it's still in the infancy stages now, is going to get better."

Whatever the solution, without more people filling those spots, the consumer might feel the strain. The shortage is prompting higher freight and shipping costs, which is cutting into the profits of major American companies. They're, in turn, forced to absorb those costs or raise prices on their products.