LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Your favorite items in the store are usually delivered by a truck driver. Some even consider the drivers to be America's backbone.
"All consumers are dealing with these constraints of getting goods from warehouses to store shelves," said Shannon Newton, President of the Arkansas Trucking Association.
The increased interest from Arkansans that are seeking their commercial driver's license (CDL) has created a traffic jam in the testing system for the industry.
"We have seen an influx of individuals seeking their CDL," Newton said. "We have individuals who have gone through the classroom training and are ready to test out and facing these backlogs in the skills testing with the state police."
Although the testing is the responsibility of Arkansas State Police (ASP), certain challenges have lessened some of their staff's ability to administer tests.
"Some testing constraints put the state police through some staffing issues, or capacity issues to do the test," Newton said. "It's just kind of created this funnel of individuals trying to squeeze through that last step of the process," Newton said.
She adds there are six different sites across the state where testers can go.
The problem now is there's a weeks-long delay between training and the skills test.
"You have individuals coming out of there, 2 or 3-week classroom training, and then having to wait an additional 3-4 weeks before they're able to enter the workforce. It's just not an ideal circumstance," Newton said.
Now, Arkansas State Police will be using the Saline County Fairgrounds for 45 days beginning Tuesday, May 31 as an additional testing site.
That will allow for more tests per day.
ASP is also allowing overtime for examiners throughout the state.
"They're able to utilize the overtime to maybe do additional tests per day or to come in and maybe work half days on a Saturday to try to address that backlog," Newton said.
Although the partnership with the state police is only temporary, Newton is hopeful this will lessen the load.
"This additional space is certainly some non-traditional solutions," Newton said. "Helping provide some short term relief so that we can get back on schedule."
According to Newton, the association will hold a review at the end of June, where they'll determine if wait times have improved and if additional measures will need to be created.