Health restrictions, online sales create high demand for truck drivers

Sarah Jane Cobb # State

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee Truck Driving School owner Barry Henson blames health restrictions and online sales for the high demand of truck drivers across the country.

"It's regulation creating demand,"
Henson said.
"There's real stiff regulation in the aspect of a truck driver. They're real strict on physical limitations, drug test failures, blood pressure. Because of these accidents, they've gotten very strenuous on their medicals; so that's running a lot of people out of the industry as well."

Due to those factors, Henson said more employers are willing to pay for experienced, healthy drivers.

"There are a lot of benefits. You can make great money driving a truck. More than anything, a lot of people don't realize is, it's not a 'gone-away-from-home' kind of job. That's a myth. That's changed. Nowadays, you've only got to do over the road driving for about six months. Once you've done that, you can get jobs when you're home every night, weekends,"
said Henson.

Tennessee Truck Driving School's program is three weeks long and costs about $5,000. However, Henson explained people need to have a job lined up before enrolling, so they can finance tuition after graduating from the program.

Henson told WVLT News reporter Sarah Jane Cobb new drivers can start making $800-$1,000 per week starting out, but schedules can get demanding. If healthy and experienced, Henson said drivers could be making a $75,000 salary.

"We get so many people that come through our training program that have actually got degrees in all sorts of things - medicine, nursing, nursing assistants - every thing you can imagine, where there are just not jobs and there's not a certain amount of money,"
said Henson.
"With this, the big thing is, you don't leave here in debt like you do with a regular education. On top of it, you can make good money."

Along with health restrictions, Henson said the "Amazon Effect" could be taking its toll on the demand of truck drivers.

"With transportation, there's probably nothing more affected by Amazon. You have to think about this in its fundamental form, when you order something from Amazon, you normally would have gone out to a store and picked it up. Well it's shipped to you - it's increasing the transportation, so I do believe the demand has increased by online stores like Amazon,"
he said.

Because of the increased popularity in online shopping, Henson said, he doesn't think the industry is going anywhere anytime soon.

Anyone interested in becoming a truck driver, can find more information by giving the Tennessee Truck Driving School a call at 865-330-0035.