Background The shortage of truck drivers hasperiodically increased in the past 15 years. In the early 2000s the shortage oftruck drivers was over 18,000. Although there was a recovery in 2011, theshortages returned and exceeded to almost 40,000 in 2014. One year later theshortage increased to about 48,000.
Trucking is one of the nation’slargest workforces, employing more than 3.5 million drivers. In fact, truckdriving is the most popular job in 29 states. The median pay for a truck driverin 2015 was just over $40,000 a year (about $20/Hr).
Trucks will transport over10 billion tons of freight this year. That’s 70% of all domestic freighttonnage. And it’s only expected to increase next year. Currently, the industry is facing ashortage of nearly 50,000 drivers. The shortage is expected to grow in thecoming years due to low numbers of qualified drivers, an aging workforce andgeneral industry turnover. One of the biggest factors of the driver shortagesis the high average of the driver age.
In 2015, the average age of a truckdriver was 49. In 2017, it is now jumped up to 55. Companies struggle to find enoughqualified drivers, which definitely impacts the shortage. A lot of carriers arehighly selective in hiring because of safety and professionalism. They look atthings like your driving record, your credit history, your age, your criminalhistory, your medical history, your employment history, and even if you have afamily. Future Forecast ofTrucking Over the next ten years, theindustry will need to hire more than 800,000 drivers in order to keep up withthe growing industry.
Replacing retired truck drivers will be a huge factor indecreasing the shortage. If the trend stays on course, there could be majorsupply chain disruptions. This means delays in shipping, higher shipping costs,and also inventory shortages in storesRight now, the industry is offering lowpaying jobs and poor working conditions for the drivers. If companies were totreat their drivers with more respect than maybe the shortage would decrease. Companiesare doing what they can to combat the shortage and improve driver retention byoffering improved home time, safe driver/performance related incentives,attractive driver benefits, and more first year advancement opportunities. In order to get more new truckdrivers, companies are offering free programs to get their commercial driver’slicense, but also a job opportunity. This could be the most important factor ofthe shortage in order to save the truck driving industry.
Truck drivers aregetting older, which is becoming a big issue for the trucking industry. Workersare aging and retiring without any new truck drivers joining in. Improvement of technology isdefinitely a consideration for the upcoming future. Self-driving trucks are alreadyon the way and could change the industry entirely.
But this doesn’t meancompanies would stop looking for truckers.Demographics-Gender Women make up 47% of all workers inAmerica. Yet female truck drivers make just 6% of all drivers in the U.S. Thepercentage is low because women were not welcome to join the industry. Maletruck drivers and some trucking company owners think that female drivers can’tface the balance with their family and job at the same time. Many people thinkof the truck driving industry is a field where only men can work. Women candrive trucks just as well as men and there’s all sorts of insurance data thatshow that women are generally safer drivers.
Accidents involving womentypically occur at slower speeds, which result in less damage. According to ananalysis by Omnitracs in 2016, female truck drivers: stay at companies longer,cover more overall miles per month and per year, are terminated at a lower ratethan male drivers. However, as the industry works toget more women into driving, there are still many challenges that make itdifficult for them. For example, the trucks themselves are built for the largerphysical size of a man. This can make it hard for women to reach the controlsand be comfortable while driving.Lifestyle Many new drivers who have left theindustry have claimed that they left because of the assigned routes that keepthem on the road for long periods of time.
Being away from their loved ones,the inability to participate in daily life activities, is what convinces peopleto leave the industry. Although the trucks come with the latest technology andequipment, it is simply not enough for some drivers to be able to adapt to.Solution for Truck DriverShortage Drivers are leaving the industrybecause of many reasons. One of the first reasons was because of the lowsalaries wages. What companies tried to do to “make the industry look better”,is provide more benefits.
The benefits can include life insurance, medicalinsurance, dental insurance, vision insurance prescription medication coverage,and retirement plans. Nowadays companies are willing to increase salaries aswell as additional bonuses. Attracting female truck drivers arewhat companies have found to be a solution for the shortage. Some companieshave started offering 401k and tuition reimbursement programs. It turns outthat this wasn’t enough and neither was raising their salaries. This hasn’tstopped trucking companies; their goal is to have a more”female-friendly-environment”. The 18-20-year-old segment has thehighest unemployment rate, yet the age of interstate driving is currently aminimum of 21.
Lowering the age would definitely improve the shortage. Transitioning military personnel tocareers as truck drivers. The ATA is trying to ease the shortage byfacilitating the transition of military veterans into fulfilling careers in theindustry. This could make it easier for active duty military personnel to gettheir learner’s permit while still stationed at their home.
Better treatment by the supply chaincan improve the experience for drivers. At drop-off or pickup locations, thereare many complaints from the drivers for how they are being mistreated. Littlethings such as restricting access to bathrooms or having to wait for extendedperiods of time before the trailer is loaded or unloaded. Better treatment tothe truck drivers can only help.The Millennial Effect When it comes to young people pickingcareers, truck driving is not on the top of their list.
They don’t want to worka job that they don’t like while barely making enough money to get by. Truckdrivers have a bad reputation in the eyes of youth today, they are consideredlazy and uninterested in working. Conclusion The world relies on truck drivers todeliver everything that we need. A lot of people don’t realize how importantthese trucks are to our economy.Manypeople are leaving the trucking industry and there are many reasons for this.
The lifestyle of a truck driver is simply not what most people are looking for.There are however many solutions to this problem such as increasing pay,attracting a younger crowd, attracting more women, making the truckingenvironment more safe and friendly, self-driving trucks, and adding morebenefits. Companies are looking for more and more workforce of reliable,skilled truckers. This has made it more difficult for the growing industry.