During discussions about the coming driver shortage, one fact that has been frequently mentioned is that during the last driver shortage, many trucking companies relied on immigrants to fill trucking seats.
That's not likely to happen this time around. With unemployment stubbornly staying high despite the end of the recession and general anti-immigrant sentiment, fleets are going to have to rely on the domestic labor pool this time around.
An article earlier this month in TIme
magazine took a fascinating look at the pros and cons of immigrant truck drivers from Russia.
"Take the two guys who are resting in Red Lodge, Mont., about 60 miles from Billings, after hauling bottles from Oklahoma to a mountain microbrewery in this city," writes Pat Dawson. "They are agonizing over what to eat from the menu, asking me questions in halting English as they express a longing for the Russian black bread, pan-fried with garlic in oil, of the old country."
Of course, the article continues, the issue of Russian drivers has caused controversy, as well. Some of the Russian truckers the author talked to admitted they have trouble reading the Latin characters used for English; they're more used to reading Cyrillic characters.
One Russian trucker "studied night and day for six months to pass his CDL test," said his brother. "His English might not be so good, but he can understand and read and write O.K."
But not all have done it the hard way, the article points out. There have been licensing scams and well-publicized truck crashes involving Russian or Slavic truckers, and the Time
piece details these, as well.
Read more at Time's website.