When we stop to think about all the merchandise and products that we consume on an everyday basis usually very little thought is given to how those items arrived at our fingertips. Sure, we know who the manufacturer is and we know who the retailer is but have you really given much thought to just how that item got to the shelf on your favorite store?

Chances are that the item spent part of its transportation time on a truck. Trucks and the men and women who drive the big rigs have been the backbone of America's economy for years. Now, those unsung heroes of the highways are in dangerously short supply. In fact, the shortage of professional drivers across the country could start to affect the cost of some of the items that you purchase every day.

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline has truly illustrated just how in-demand qualified over-the-road drivers are. The principles of that pipeline say that it has been running at full production for several days now following that attack, yet many gas stations along the eastern seaboard are still without fuel. The reason? There aren't enough trucks and drivers to get the fuel to the stations in need.

The coronavirus pandemic is partly to blame for the shortage. As you might imagine many tanker drivers had to park their rigs during the pandemic. Since fewer cars were on the road the need for fuel was lessened. That decrease in demand meant fewer fuel deliveries and many of those delivery drivers found other opportunities to earn money.

Officials with the Louisiana Motor Transport Association said the driver shortage was already in full force before the pandemic made it worse. Many of the state's professional drivers are older and many chose to retire during the downtime of the pandemic. There also doesn't appear to be a large new crop of younger drivers ready and willing to take over those seats.

However, many trade organizations such as the Louisiana Motor Transport Association are offering incentives to get younger people into those trucks. Among the incentives are scholarships to pay for training and changes in legislation to help train even more qualified drivers. I guess the bottom line is simple, "when you can drive a truck, you've got a job, my friend" No, I didn't write that but I do think it would make a great jingle for a truck driving school.

Meanwhile, let's all practice being better drivers. If you're not sure how here are some suggestions.

7 Tips to Keep From Being Distracted While Driving