Little Rock, Ark. (KTHV) -- The roller coaster ride continues for the trucking industry.
Our partners at Arkansas Business report that Arkansas schools are seeing more students who want to be truck drivers.
However, the American Trucking Association reports that a high turnover rate for the trucking industry. In the fourth quarter of 2011, the turnover rate for truck drivers stood at 88 percent. That's down a percentage point from the previous quarter.
The clothes on your back. The food you eat. What if you didn't have what you needed to get through the day? That's a possibility if the trucking industry continues to see a decline in new drivers.
"The average age of the truck driver today is between 45 and 55 years of age," says Dennis Hilton, Director of Safety for CalArk International.
Hilton says the industry isn't what it used to be.
"It's made it a little more difficult because we have to screen closer to the standards," Hilton adds.
Hilton says the high turnover rate has to do with people either wanting to retire or try working in a different industry.
"Some of them have tired of the industry. Some have medical conditions that are forcing them out," explains Hilton.
George Beers has driving trucks off and on since 1997. He says he's not surprised to see the turnover.
"Us truck drivers are like a bunch of big kids. Seems like the grass is always greener on the other side, so to speak," Beers says.
Now, Beers teaches the trade to future diesel drivers.
"I love my job. I get to have a positive impact on young people's lives. It's really nice. You meet some real nice people and you get to get them on a good career. I like that," adds Beers.
But not all drivers feel this way.
"It depends entirely on the individual. It's a lonesome life out here," says Marshall Johnson, a 38-year trucking veteran.
Johnson thinks it's harder to be a driver now.
"The laws [have] changed. It's [gotten] tougher. And more traffic," Johnson adds.
But any driver will tell you, without them don't expect life to be the same.
"With a driver shortage, things won't be on the shelves. Everything's [going to] go up. It's [going to] cost more to transport it because there's a shortage of drivers."
Less than six months ago, the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services started up its Truck Driver Training Pilot Initiative. The program had been suspended in 2009 due to the economy.
Classes to become a truck driver at UA Fort Smith are full through the first of July. Officials with the school say they've seen greater interest in the program over the past year and a half.