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.
The trucking industry as a whole is growing, creating a high demand for drivers. The majority of the drivers are currently those of the baby boomer generation which is on the decline. The industry now needs to look at the millennial generation to take over and keep up with the demand. “The millennial generation could hold the key to the trucking industry’s need for new drivers. Not only is there a place for them behind the wheel, but a trucking career is also full of unique benefits and perks that can help millennials build a great resume, earn valuable experience, and make a sustainable living at the same time.”1
Drivers are said to be one of (if not the most) important asset for trucking companies. Not only are they responsible for the successful and safe transportation of products, but overall act as brand ambassadors for their company, often spending more time with customers than traditional salesmen. The impression they leave behind plays a large role in customer retention as a negative experience can lead to lost future sales while a pleasant and memorable experience can cause a shipper/consignee to want to increase their business together. Knowing this, it comes to question as to why many carriers would hire less than qualified drivers to represent their company. Perhaps to fill capacity restraints? Or maybe because they do not have to pay them as much as they would an experienced/skilled driver? Whatever the case, industry experts agree that the quality of drivers is decreasing.