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Economic Impact of Wait Times for Commercial Drivers

January 2019  |  Nam D. Pham, Ph.D. and Mary Donovan

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Commercial vehicle drivers are in high demand within the trucking and bus industries. In fact, the American Trucking Association estimated that there was a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers in 2017.  To make matters worse, delays for Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) skills tests are accumulating. States with the most significant backlogs tend to have state-run testing centers only. Using available data of 33 states, we estimated that nearly half of the estimated 669,688 initial CDL skills tests and retests experienced delays in 2016, totaling over 6.4 million days of delays. These delays put 258,744 driver and other jobs on hold and forgo nearly $1.5 billion in wages a year. If skills tests and income were not delayed, local economies could have added nearly $1.4 billion in economic activities and federal and local governments could have collected additional $342 million in income and sales tax revenue.