FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — There are thousands of open truck driver positions in Arkansas, and trucking groups and companies say any help to get those openings filled is welcome.

Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton said truck drivers are a critical link in the supply chain.

“The truck driver is the number one resource that we have, without the actual driver being there to move the truck, nothing happens without the truck driver,” Newton said.

However, the demand for drivers and getting products delivered fast has surpassed the number of drivers currently working, according to Jason Turner, VP of Talent for logistics company, ArcBest.

“High demand that outstrips the supply and the congestion that we’ve seen, being able to get candidates through the process quicker and have more a larger candidate pool is critical to help solving that,” Turner said.

Turner said one of the biggest issues facing the trucking industry is driver retirement. So, attracting new drivers is important to help fill that gap.

The White House revealed the Trucking Action plan last week that aims to strengthen the truck driver workforce through strategies like expediting CDL testing, creating apprenticeship programs, and recruiting veterans.

“If we could get some of those funds available to increase personnel or increase the hours and availability of testing, then we think that that will smooth out that pipeline,” Newton said.

Newton said she is hopeful the plan will be one step closer to addressing the driver shortage.