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Savannah company is raising pay and benefits to combat truck driver shortage

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Savannah Technical College offers a CDL training course at its Effingham campus. (Caitlyn Penter WTGS)

“There is a shortage and it is national,” said Tom Amacher, department head of commercial truck driving at Savannah Technical College's Effingham campus.

There just aren't enough truck drivers, but one Savannah company is trying to change that.

“It’s just an extremely competitive market,” said Ben Schill, vice president of Paper Transport, Inc.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is $42,480.

To compete, Schill's company is increasing its wages for its Class A CDL Regional and Dedicated fleets along with an additional $.50 an hour increase for its hourly professional drivers.

The company is not stopping there.

“We’re looking to improve and add more jobs where drivers are actually sleeping at home everyday and with their families,” said Schill.

The company also hopes to increase the amount of vacation time offered to drivers.

This will be Paper Transport Inc's second pay raise within the last six months. Company officials said they are competing with more than 500,000 trucking companies around the country for drivers.

According to truckers, this change is needed across the board.

"Well, I see a lot of interest," said Amacher. People want to become truck drivers; they just don't want the lifestyle associated with it.

“I’m really not looking for over-the-road trucking,” said Anthony Direnzo, a student driver in Savannah Tech's commercial drivers license (CDL) training program.

Direnzo said with his first trucking job, he's looking for a particular lifestyle.

“I’m looking for local where I can go home every night," said Direnzo.

Amacher said it is a great time to get into the trucking industry.

“The pay rates are phenomenal. I’ve never seen them where they are now," said Amacher.

Students must pass written and skills tests to get their CDL. It is strongly recommended that they attend a training course in order to more easily pass the exams. According to Amacher, the skills test can take up to two hours.