Oklahoma and the United States are facing a major shortage of commercial truck drivers.
There are a lot of factors at play. In Oklahoma and other oil and natural gas-rich states, many over-the-road truckers are taking jobs with energy companies. The pay is often better and the limited territory that comes with an energy driving job means truckers can spend more time at home with their families.
Being a trucker is hard — especially on families. And while this is a difficult job hazard to quantify with a graph or chart, every single trucker and motor carrier owner we interviewed said it’s a major job deterrent.
Responding to the driver shortage, education officials at Career Tech want to open four state-funded satellite schools near oil and gas-rich parts of the state.
There might be other factors adding to the driver shortage, including the military. Several drivers and truck line owners told us they aren’t seeing as many young veterans applying for commercial driving jobs.
Historically, a lot of truckers were former soldiers trained to operate heavy military equipment, a skill transferable to tractor-trailers. Repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan might mean there aren’t as many heavy equipment-trained ex-military members looking for jobs stateside, they told us.
Click around the map below, which charts the five-year trend of commercial truck driver employment state by state. Some of the big energy states — North Dakota, Montana, Alaska — are among those trending up. Nevada has lost the most, and had 28 percent fewer truckers in 2010 than it did in 2006.