If you are a truck driver, you may be concerned about the industry outlook, You may ask a question: Does truck driver shortage really exist?
Actually, there is a shortage of qualified professional truck drivers because drivers are leaving the trucking field and looking for jobs that offer better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is the Truck Driver Shortage?
- 2 Why there is a truck driver shortage?
- 2.1 1. Retirement Rates:
- 2.2 2. Unattractive working conditions:
- 2.3 3. Low Salaries:
- 2.4 4. Unpaid Work:
- 2.5 5. Truck Driver Turnover:
- 2.6 6. Restricted Driving Hours
- 2.7 7. Unfair Fines:
- 2.8 8. High Level of Risk:
- 2.9 9. Time Spent Away:
- 2.10 10. Barriers for Entry into Trucking Are High:
- 2.11 11. CDL Exam Rule
- 2.12 12. Older Average Workforce
What Is the Truck Driver Shortage?
According to the American Trucking Associations, they reported a truck driver shortage of about 60,800 drivers in 2018, a 20 percent increase from the year prior.
Truck driver shortage hit a high of 60,800 drivers, up from 50,700 in 2017.
Over the past 15 years, there was a shortage rise and fall with economic trends, but it ballooned last year to the highest level to date.
Numbers may jump in the coming years and could threaten the United Stated supply chains.
Economist Bob Costello, Chief of the American Trucking Association, said that truck driver shortages could reach six figures by 2024.
Costello said that the increase in the driver shortage should be a warning to carriers, shippers, and policymakers.
The industry can be short over 100,000 drivers during five years and 160,000 drivers in 2028 if conditions don’t change.
Why there is a truck driver shortage?
If the truck driver shortage really exists, what are the factors contributing to the shortage? Here is a list of the main factors that lead to truck driver shortage:
1. Retirement Rates:
Previously, for every 4 truck drivers that retired you have 3 drivers coming on.
Now, for every 4 truck drivers that retire, you may have half a driver coming on.
So these rates clearly show truck driver shortage.
The primary factors for the increase in 2018 truck driver shortage included an aging driver population entering retirement, increases in freight volumes, and competition from other blue-collar careers.
Currently, the average age of an OTR driver is 46, while the average age of new drivers being trained is 35.
Trucking needs to find ways to attract more and younger drivers.
2. Unattractive working conditions:
Truck driving can be a hard job. You will be responsible for a truck that often weighs over 26,000 pounds.
You may prevent your eyes from sleeping to meet strict delivery deadlines.
Stress, excessive working hours, and low quality of life are among daily challenges for many truck drivers and define their hard everyday work.
3. Low Salaries:
The living cost gradually increases but salaries have not kept up with the cost of living.
Some trucking companies are providing their truck drivers with low salaries which seems no longer worth the sacrifices the drivers make for the job.
4. Unpaid Work:
Most companies pay their drivers for miles instead of paying for the time spent in driving or to their skills.
As a result, they receive nothing in many situations such as when they become stuck in traffic jams, construction zones, bad weather, or any of the other delays they face while driving on the road.
5. Truck Driver Turnover:
Lack of persons interested in becoming drivers is not the reason why the shortage of truck drivers exists.
There are lots of drivers interested in becoming truck drivers, but once many of them discover the low pay, the lack of respect, the often poor working conditions and the demands of the job, they leave the idea.
When they feel there is no appreciation nor worth pay, truck drivers currently are leaving their jobs to look for something that offers better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
6. Restricted Driving Hours
All drivers that keep a Duty Status Record must use an ELD (Electronic Logging Device) to record their hours of service is a way of proving that they follow the rules.
In addition, the ELD tells you when you can be on the road and when you should be off duty.
However, if a driver is delayed for any reason during his allotted driving time, he loses miles and money and there is nothing he can do about it.
7. Unfair Fines:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s order aims to ensure commercial trucking companies conduct business in a safe manner and to fine drivers that break the law.
However, sometimes truck drivers receive charges in revenue-based enforcement states with unfair fines.
When being charged, this counts from your paychecks, reducing your overall pay even more.
8. High Level of Risk:
By the way, being a truck driver and driving on the road is risky and dangerous, here are some risks that you may find if you are a truck driver:
- Accidents happen occasionally while driving on the road.
- Driving in bad weather, on rough roads.
- Delivering to unsafe areas and driving for long hours to make deadlines.
- Some deliveries involve transporting hazardous chemicals and other dangerous substances that can put the driver’s health at risk.
9. Time Spent Away:
Actually, truck drivers spend on the road several days at a time.
In some trucking jobs, truck drivers may be away from home for weeks.
So they spend a lot of time away from their wives and children, loved ones and friends.
10. Barriers for Entry into Trucking Are High:
At times, there is just more capacity in terms of trucks than the industry can bear, the truck’s empty and theoretically, that’s the shortage, Low barriers to entry cause a huge number of trucks to be in the market.
This overcapacity may indicate to another trend that seems to be troubling this year, a large number of company failures.
According to what was reported by FOX Business, 795 trucking companies failed in 2019, three times as many as the previous year.
That happened because 2018 was a particularly good year for the industry, so companies added trucks and increased capacity.
When demand moved backwards this year, driving prices did as well.
11. CDL Exam Rule
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a proposed rule that allows commercial driver license applicants to take the required general and specialized knowledge tests in a state other than their official residence.
Previously, applicants could only take the exams in the state where they live.
But under the proposed rule, states that elect to offer the tests to out-of-state applicants are to send the results to regulators in the state where the applicant resides, and they must be accepted.
FMCSA Administrator said that when reducing barriers and expenses on CDL applicants it will lead to an increased number of available truck drivers.
12. Older Average Workforce
Almost all sectors have an aging workforce on average.
Unfortunately, the average age of the current professional truck driver is higher than all other professions.
The average age of a professional truck driver is 47 years old, which is 3 years older than most other sectors.
To retain and recruit drivers, industry needs to make the following:
- Remove barriers for younger drivers to begin careers.
- Attract more demographic diversity.
- Increase pay.
- Address such lifestyle factors as giving drivers more time at home.
- Reduce wait times at shipper facilities.