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Nevada truck driver shortage contributes to higher prices for goods, groceries

Posted at 12:24 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 15:24:47-04

NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Fewer truck drivers means paying more money for food, supplies, and other essentials. And that shortage is happening right here in Nevada, as inflation hits an all-time high.

FULL COVERAGE: How inflation is impacting Southern Nevadans

From groceries to building materials, the goods we rely on every day are brought here by truck drivers. But statewide, there's a problem on the horizon.

"There's not enough truck drivers," said Peter Sigala.

Sigala has been trucking for 30 years, and says times have never been more challenging. Not only are consumers seeing higher prices, but so are drivers.

They pay for their fuel, "and anything that happens to that truck, they have to pay for it," Sigala said.

Michael Jankins, an instructor at Ahern Trucking School in North Las Vegas, called it a domino effect. When you have fewer drivers, a driver can demand more pay. Those costs are passed on to both suppliers and consumers, Jankins noted.

"It is going to effect everything if the trucks shut down," he said. "It's going to effect the world. If you bought it, a truck brought it."

While he's seen many students enroll in trucking school recently, Jankins says the industry is also more expensive to break into once these students get their license. For operators and owners, there are huge expenses for buying, running and maintaining trucks.

It used to cost operators and owners about $40,000 for a used semi-truck, Jankins said. Now, they're paying more than $120,000.

For their part, drivers who spoke to KTNV said the biggest increase they've noticed is the cost of diesel fuel.

"It's doubled," said Ward Landis, who's operated his own trucking business for nearly 14 years.

Recently, with a lower amount of freight and a significant spike in fuel prices, Landis says he's close to hitting his breaking point.

"My income has gone down because the expenses have gone so high," he said.

In Nevada, there's a shortage of about 2,000 drivers needed to operate the trucking industry efficiently, said Paul Enos with the Nevada Trucking Association.

Places like Las Vegas that don't have a significant manufacturing footprint rely on truck drivers the most, Enos said.

"These drivers are responsible for delivering 95.5% of the goods we consume," Enos said.