Holiday packages could be delayed as COVID pandemic has worsened truck driver shortage

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ByDan Krauth via WABC logo
Thursday, December 9, 2021
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With just a few weeks until Christmas, a lack of truck drivers could mean a delay in holiday packages. Dan Krauth reports with the latest.

With just a few weeks until Christmas, a lack of truck drivers could mean a delay in holiday packages.

Supply chain issues are causing delays across the board, from cargo ships getting into port, to unloading those ships, to the drivers who are tasked with delivering the packages.

Before the coronavirus pandemic started, there was a shortage of 60,000 drivers nationwide. Now, that number is up to 80,000.

"It's a huge jump," Trucking Association of New York President Kendra Hems said. "I'd say it's the worst it's been, it's the worst we've certainly seen in the last several decades."

Many drivers retired early when the pandemic first started, and many others who were laid off haven't come back to work.

Unlike most other professions, drivers are limited to the amount of overtime they can work. They can only spend a certain amount of time behind the wheel before it becomes a safety issue.

Some companies are offering bonuses and six figure salaries to draw new drivers to the profession.

Drivers like Tony Mazzella, who is a longtime driver with UPS in Midtown, Manhattan, said it's the busiest time of the year.

"We are in a crunch," Mazzella said. "You just come in every day and know that you're needed and you just grind,. You just grind, but I love it."

In New York City, 90% of freight is brought in by trucks.

"It's not just Christmas gifts," Hems said. "We're seeing the shortages in the grocery store shelves, challenges getting medicine delivered, so it is a very serious issue that we're working to overcome.

She doesn't expect it to get better anytime soon.

"The supply chain will eventually correct itself, so there will be an end to it," she said. "But I think, unfortunately, we are going to be in this until well into 2022 though."

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