The trucking industry’s driver shortage is not going away and it will be a huge topic of discussion for a long time; unless changes are made that is. This shortage goes back to 2005 when it was just around 20,000. In 2008, the United States went through a recession where fewer drivers were needed due to the fall in industry volumes. Once the economy started to recovery and increase, so did the driver shortage; they go hand in hand. The shortage skyrocketed to 50,700 in 2017 due to the increase in industry volumes. Since then the trucking industry has continued to struggle with driver shortage. By the end of 2019, there should be a slight decrease in the driver shortfall but not significant enough to fix the issue. If these current trends hold, the shortage can increase to over 160,000 by 2028 if no changes are made.
Depending on the regulation changes in the future, there can either be an increase or decrease in driver shortage. For example, if any regulations are changed that would result in decreasing productivity, the need for trucks and drivers would increase. If the federal government lowered the required age for interstate drivers, there could then be a decrease in driver shortage.
Most people are unaware of the quantity versus quality aspect of hiring drivers. Although drivers are needed, there are specific and important standards that need to be met. Safety is an enormous factor trucking companies take into consideration, which is why standards are so high. A poor driving record can disqualify a potential driver. Not all of the drivers that apply for a position will be qualified to get hired. Road Scholar Transport has a firm belief that our drivers are a direct representation of our company and our customers, which is why we have extremely stringent driver hiring requirements. Even in the driver starved market that the industry is experiencing, the extensive background checks exclude 85% of applicants at Road Scholar. The cost of lowering these standards can be significant in the long run when accounting for increased insurance premiums and accidents.
As the driver shortage increases, trucking companies try to recruit drivers from other carriers since they are already qualified, knowledgeable and skilled. Carriers offer sign-on bonuses, higher pay, newer trucks, and better lanes. Drivers leaving companies in this manner increases the turnover rate of the trucking industry.
Changes to be Made
Pay Increases: The demand for drivers is increasing the driver wage significantly as well as increasing other driver benefits. Many carriers implemented a guaranteed minimum weekly pay allowing drivers to receive a more consistent pay check. Road Scholar Transport’s minimum driver pay guarantees anywhere from $1,050 -$1,350 per week. We also offer our drivers comprehensive healthcare and benefits, access perks, and overtime if wanted.
More At-Home Time: Potential new drivers are hesitant to take a job that requires so much time away from home. The decrease of on the road time for drivers and the decrease of the length of haul should increase home time. Road Scholar Transport has a flexible dispatch and allows local drivers to be home nightly and regional drivers to be home on weekends.
Lower Driving Age: Lowering the current minimum interstate driving age from 21 to 18 can get potential drivers’ attention earlier. At the age of 21, most potential drivers have already found another career path. Additional training would be required for younger drivers to give young people the skills to start careers that offer livable wages with health and retirement benefits.
Improved Driver Image: The perception of truck drivers has a tendency to be negative. Trucking Moves America Forward is an example of a positive image initiative and is working on highlighting a demanding but rewarding career for potential drivers.
Transitioning Military Personnel into Truck Drivers: The transition of military veterans into fulfilling careers in the trucking industry would ease the driver shortage. This would make it easier for active military personnel to obtain their commercial learner’s permit while stationed outside of their home state. Also those with a military occupation can have their training and experience counted toward the civilian license requirements.
Better Treatment and Reduced Wait Times by the Supply Chain: After driving for hours, drivers often complain of mistreatment at shipping and receiving facilities. Some complain of restrictions to bathrooms, having to wait extended periods of time for their trailer to be loaded or unloaded. Improving these situations would attract more potential drivers to the industry. The challenging lifestyle of a truck driver deserves respect; all parts of the supply chain should treat them the proper way. Reducing a driver’s wait time means they can drive more within their service hours, increasing their capacity.
Autonomous Trucks: Most people think that driver- assist technology will take this job away from humans; however it can have a positive impact on driver shortage by making the job less stressful. The technology can also attract a younger more tech- savvy demographic as well.
Commercial Driver License Testing Recognition: Driver candidates who obtain their training out of state are required to travel back to their state of domicile to obtain their relevant credential, creating a barrier to entry through financial burdens on those who can least afford it and skill degradation. This limits carriers’ ability to expand and scale the hiring of female and minority drivers at rates above the industry average.
“Over the next decade, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year. Replacing retiring truck drivers will be by far the largest factor; accounting for over half of new driver hires (54%). The second largest factor will be industry growth, accounting for 25% of new driver hires.” These trends can greatly affect the supply chain resulting in shipping delays, higher carrying costs, and shortages in stores. As our economy grows, the demand for products increases. As the demand for products increase, the demand for drivers increases as well. The only way the trucking industry will acquire the drivers needed is if changes are made.
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