Last time, we took a look at The American Trucking Associations’ “Truck Driver Shortage Analysis 2019,” a report on the history and possible directions of the trucking industry.
The report describes a driver shortage that could reach even more troubling proportions: 2017’s shortage of nearly 51,000 drivers. An increase in 2018. In the near term, “the driver shortfall is expected to fall slightly by the end of 2019 from a combination of slower economic growth and a small bump in supply.”
Causes of the shortage include an average driver age of 46 in the truckload industry. By association, it’s increasingly difficult to attract and keep younger drivers in the workforce.
The ATA projects that the industry will require some 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade.
So, the question becomes: how do we add more drivers? Good on the ATA for not simply posing the question but having some sensible—if problematic—solutions. These include:
Driver Pay Increases. As they describe it, “Many fleets also instituted guaranteed minimum weekly pay so that the drivers would have a more consistent paycheck. Sign-on bonuses are used throughout the industry as competition for drivers heats up. Expect driver pay to continue rising as long as the driver shortage continues.”
More At-Home Time. If you’re running local routes, with the ability to get home every day, this is not so much a problem. Otherwise, it’s an age-old issue of spending all that time away from home.
Lower Driving Age. We’re especially keen on this issue. As NATCO VP Cori Eckley relates, “A major problem to attracting young talent to the industry is minimum age requirements. In order to get a Class A CDL, you have to be 20 or 21 years old. So, if a high school graduate is interested in becoming a truck driver, they essentially have to wait 3 years to get a license. And then, most companies want five years of experience or for new carriers to be at least 25 years old to be considered for hire.”
Transitioning Military Personnel to Careers as Truck Drivers. We’re intrigued by this one. As with the driving age issue, above, it makes good sense to have some sort of accommodation, providing those who serve the country with the ability to join the truck driving industry, and without such a long wait.
Better Treatment and Reduced Wait Times by the Supply Chain. Yes, this is an issue. As the ATA writes, “Complaints range from restricting access to restrooms to having to wait extended periods of time before the trailer is loaded or unloaded. Improving the experience for drivers at drop-off and pickup locations would provide for a more attractive career choice.”
Our carriers—NATCO’s and the nation’s—really are the backbone of transportation. Qualified prospective drivers deserve the industry’s respect and ability to contribute unimpeded in the industry