Truckers are often forced to sleep and eat in their rig's cabins at truck stops while on the road, but now many have a better option — one that the industry hopes will keep more drivers on the asphalt longer.
Companies like Legacy Sleepers and Bolt, both based in Indiana, manufacture mobile living spaces that can be affixed to trucks so that those who haul goods across the country for a living can do so comfortably — and in style.
Even though the price tag for a Bolt deluxe sleeper is a steep $240,000, company president Brian Callan said business is on a roll.
Trucking companies "are finding that basically this package that we have here is something to attract and retain drivers," he said.
And the industry is taking notice — because the demand for truckers is skyrocketing.
The American Trucking Association estimates that there is a shortage of about 35,000 to 40,000 drivers and, in 10 years, the industry will need 1 million new drivers as a generation of truckers retires.
“Due to growing freight volumes, regulatory pressures and normal attrition, we expect the problem to get worse in the near term as the industry works to find solutions to the shortage," said ATA chief economist Bob Costello.
Drivers Linda and Bob Caffee are a testament to the fact that the sleepers might be the solution to keeping more people on the road for longer.
The couple drives nearly 145,000 miles each year — which equates to crossing the country about 50 times — hauling up to 14,000 pounds of cargo. Linda Caffee said the time traveling in their amenity-loaded truck is a pleasure.
"People say, 'When are you guys going to retire?' And I can't even imagine it. We're having so much fun now," said Linda Caffee.
"I watch the sun come up. It's a wonderful way to start the day," she said.