The truck driver shortage is an ongoing crisis, unfortunately not a new one. As stated by the American Trucking Association (ATA), the trucking industry had been facing a driver shortage problem for over 15 years already. With e-commerce growing and people expecting faster deliveries, truck drivers are in higher demand than ever. The ATA extrapolates that the industry could suffer a lack of up to 160,000 drivers by the year 2028 if current trends remain unchanged. This shortage could have a wide-reaching effect on the overall economy, so it is fundamental to recognize what is causing this gap of truck drivers, how it could affect your own business, and explore effective services to address the problem and ensure a reliable supply of drivers for the industry’s needs.
What’s causing a driver shortage in the trucking industry?
The driver shortage is a problem that can be attributed to a few primary causes. Truck drivers often face difficult circumstances while traveling over 100,000 miles each year, frequently spending weeks or even months away from their families. Consequently, employers find it difficult to recruit and retain employees, given the many issues that come with this line of work. Unpredictable hours, hazardous driving conditions, and extended periods of time away from home can make the job very unattractive, leaving employers struggling to attract qualified drivers.
How does a truck driver shortage affect your business?
Truckers fill a pivotal role in the modern economy. Over three-quarters of all cargo is transported via U.S. highways, generating $791.7 billion in 2019 alone. According to the American Trucking Association’s U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast, the industry could expect a 24% increase in freight tonnage by 2022, resulting in a 66% surge in revenues for the sector.
The ramifications of a potential truck driver shortage could be immense. Not just the entire supply chain, but also the food and medical industry — already vulnerable and crucial to the average citizen’s well-being — would be gravely impacted, potentially causing widespread panic and unrest. Additionally, everyday conveniences such as fuel at petrol stations and cash in ATMs may be hampered by the shortage.
The main factors affecting the truck driver shortage
The trucking sector is, in a lot of ways, the foundation on which the economy relies. In order to keep up with the demand for essential goods and services, we need to find ways to overcome the issues causing the driver shortage in the trucking industry. Without this resolution, we could not cultivate the necessary support that consumers need in order to make their essential purchases.
Presently, the trucking industry is intensely monopolized by Caucasian men. As per the U.S. Census Bureau, within the most popular trucker age bracket of 55 to 64, more than half a million truckers are white, while associates from other racial and ethnic backgrounds make up not up to one hundred thousand employees. Even though, according to the Census Bureau, the fresh looks of trucking is increasingly female, women generally only occupy six percent of the entire commercial truck driver workforce.
In several states, a driver’s license is available to obtain at the young age of sixteen. However, when it comes to applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for interstate transportation, the federal regulations state that the applicant must be at least twenty-one years of age. This leads to a modern obstacle for young adults in their late teens, as there is a three-year gap of difference that presents a dilemma for many individuals. Consequently, for those faced with this challenge, alternative employment pathways must be considered prior to turning to the trucking industry as a potential career option.
The trucking lifestyle
Most truckers have to undertake long-distance routes that keep them away from home for extensive periods of time. This kind of laborious schedule impacts their daily lifestyle, making it difficult to stick to a healthy diet or to regularly engage in physical exercise. Excessive time spent on the road makes it even more challenging to take preventive measures against chronic ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sleep deprivation is another key issue truckers have to tackle on a daily basis. Long-haul truckers are oftentimes forced to rest in their vehicle, sometimes even when the truck is operated by a different driver. Poor sleep conditions and the inability to relax can lead to drowsiness, impaired judgment, memory lapses and other dangerous side effects which threaten the safety of both the trucker and other users on the roadway.
How to solve the truck driver shortage
It is essential to look into ways to improve the trucking industry in several important ways, including the wages of drivers, physical work conditions and enriched diversity among those employed in the industry. Addressing these issues now can help stave off a greater issue with truck driver shortages during the years to come.
When there is a scarcity of goods or services, it is natural for a marketplace to raise their price. This has applied to truck driver wages as well, as truck drivers are a valuable element of the workforce and their employers should think about delivering wage increases, as well as additional benefits, as incentives for them.
Currently the average pay a truck driver is around $47,130 annually or $22.60 per hour. To help incentivize increased recruitment, companies may choose to give pay increases every year in addition to an enhanced weekend driving rate, performance bonuses, and perks like rewards programs.
Wow, trucking companies could also give a comprehensive and generous benefits package, including a secure 401(k) plan and health care, plus paid vacation and time off. Wellness and dependents’ coverage options would also be incentives to think about, especially in regard to older members of this population who may be more prone to health issues and those who have families.
Improve working conditions
It’s essential to make an effort to reduce the time truckers spend on the go in order to improve their quality of life. By lessening the amount of time spent on the roads and allowing more time for break and rest at home, many of the truckers’ lifestyle issues such as poor physical and mental health can be greatly improved.
The transportation industry is split between different sectors. The vast majority of driver shortages occur with on-the-road and full-truckload shipments while less-than-truckload methods and parcel drivers are used less frequently. By utilizing more of these options and providing truckers the option to work in a job where they can travel home each night, it can bypass some of the more extreme lifestyle conditions.
Encourage underrepresented people to apply
Women, veterans, and members of minority communities are alarmingly underserved and under-represented in the trucking industry. This is an immense discrepancy that shows how the current system is failing in its duty to invite and welcome individuals from all walks of life into a rewarding career. Thankfully, by taking action to support these communities, and creating an environment that is more comfortable and inspiring for people from these underrepresented areas, we can start to create positive change and increase the number of qualified women, veterans, and minority individuals entering trucking jobs.
Invest in autonomous trucking
An increasing number of organizations are exploring the potential of deploying cutting-edge technology consisting of long-range, high-resolution sensors, partnered with powerful neural networks and energy-saving computers, to efficiently automate a variety of activities, ranging from shipping yard operations to long-distance transport.
Autonomous trucking represents a scalable option, as varied levels of autonomy can be adopted. For example, a level two autonomous trucking venture can involve a driver at the helm while level four or five autonomy means that no human intervention is necessary. Autonomous trucking carries the potential to transform logistics and deliver substantial relief to the current truck driver shortages.