The trucking industry has been heavily hit in the past year. Most of all, there is a shortage of hazmat drivers, and this problem is affecting the industry hard. According to carrier executives, there are about 60,000 open spots for truckers throughout the US but no people to apply for the job although it is a career with great prospects.
How to save the trucking industry?
Trucking was once a highly sought-after job. Today, the shortage of hazmat drivers shows us that things have changed. Anyone who wishes to become a truck driver must know what to expect from a trucking career.
With that in mind, what is the cause of this shortage, and how can we overcome it?
The reasons for the shortage of hazmat drivers in the trucking industry
From 2018 till today, there has been an increase in loads per flatbed. Furthermore, eCommerce exploded. The entire industry increased the demand for trucking to keep up with the incoming orders.
However, the aging workforce was never replaced with younger generations in the same numbers. Furthermore, high turnover and low unemployment rate only contributed to this shortage. It is also worth noting that, upon enforcing electronic logging devices, the productivity of truck drivers dropped by more than 10%.
Is trucking in other industries affected?
Other industries, like the moving industry or logistics, also use truck drivers. We have witnessed a trend that an increased number of people opt for relocation during the summer months, which implies that the truck drivers have a lot of work. However, we cannot say the same for the hazmat drivers.
One of the reasons is that the USA PATRIOT Act requires HAZMAT-certified drivers. Therefore, many companies have stopped hauling hazardous materials. The drivers do not want to get the certification, and the companies are on their side. Roadside inspection is more rigorous, with higher penalties if something goes wrong. And trucking companies do not want to risk paying fees for violations.
Is there a way out of this situation?
The first thing that comes to mind is increasing payment rates, especially for hazmat drivers. Distributors and contractors need to contribute from their end by:
submitting purchase orders on time;
sending order confirmations multiple days ahead;
removing last-minute order changes;
unloading freight immediately after delivery.
The change in the trucking industry is necessary
To solve the shortage of Hazmat drivers, we need a complete overhaul of the trucking industry. Young truckers need better work conditions, better salaries, and a more flexible work environment. More than anything else, the country’s government needs to understand this critical situation and work together with truck carriers to solve this problem. The overall situation is not satisfactory. However, if we work together, there is nothing we cannot fix!
Author bio: Nick Marks is a freelance writer focusing on the transportation and the logistics industry. With a lot of contacts in the trucking business, he has access to the most current information. Through his articles, Nick wants to speak about the current issues around the country and the best ways to solve them.