Manufacturers Concerned over Transportation Costs and Driver Shortage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Robertson (Sara.Robertson2@mail.house.gov)

Manufacturers Concerned over Transportation Costs and Driver Shortage

1/26/2023

Cabot  Concerns over inflation and the trucker shortage were top of mind in discussions between executives of Dreamline Manufacturing and Representative Rick Crawford (AR-01) last week. Dreamline Manufacturing is a family-owned bedding and mattress company based in Cabot, Arkansas that ships to over 20 states. All their trucks are company-owned and the drivers are company employees trained in furniture delivery.

“The cost of our trucks has skyrocketed, just finding someone to operate it and fix it. The maintenance costs alone have also tripled,” said Kevin Tipton, President of Dreamline. 

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the driver shortage is now estimated at 80,000, up from 61,000 only three years ago. Many current drivers are also aging out of the profession and there isn’t currently a sufficient new generation of drivers waiting to fill these job openings. 

“I think there are ways you can weave in apprenticeships, team driving, or any other number of options to integrate a younger driver into the system,” said Crawford. “It’s pretty obtuse to think that we allow 18-year-olds to go into war and drive military vehicles, but we can’t hire them to drive a semi-truck from here to there.” 

Rep. Crawford was a long-time supporter of the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or the DRIVE Safe Act. The legislation, which was signed into law last year, allows a pathway for drivers under the age of 21 to drive trucks across state lines by creating a two-step apprenticeship program. While 49 states permit 18-year-olds to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), federal law has prevented them from driving trucks across state lines. 

“An 18-year-old can drive from Texarkana [AR] to West Memphis legally but they can’t cross over the bridge,” explained State Representative Brian Evans. 

Tipton is also a member of the Cabot School Board and invited Crawford to come back to visit their Career Technical Education program to which the Congressman agreed.

Crawford represents the First District of Arkansas, which runs from Boone County through Mississippi County as well as down the eastern part of the state. He is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has served in the U.S House since 2011.

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