Driver Shortage, A Problem In Our Industry.

Driver Shortage, A Problem In Our Industry.

“Truck Drivers Needed!”
“Get your CDL Today!”
“Sign on Bonus for new drivers!”

The ads and catch phrases go on and on…but they are there for a truly valid reason…The shortage of qualified drivers that the trucking industry has been facing for several years is a very real problem.

As a 3PL, we feel the shortage in just about every avenue of what we do. From available trucks, to rates, to ensuring our customers freight gets picked up and delivered as it should, when it should. But it isn’t just 3PL’s such as ours that feel the effects, it is the shippers, receivers, carriers and even though most people don’t realize it, the consumers.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA) there is a shortage of about 20-25,000 drivers per year across the US. The current average age of commercial drivers is 55, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with retirement on the rise among these drivers the number of qualified personnel needed is only going to increase. It is projected by the US government that nearly 330,000 truckers will be needed by the year 2020. That is a lot of jobs to fill!

Although retirement among the current generation of drivers is part of the issue, it is by no means the only reason for this shortage.

New regulations put in place for our industry by the government also have a huge impact. The new hours of service compliance that went into effect in the summer of 2013 seems to be one of the biggest factors. With the shortened hours and miles drivers are allowed a day, plus the additional breaks they are required to take it is affecting the paychecks of not only owner operators, but drivers that get payed by the mile. (Which is very common for those of you that are not aware!) Drivers are only allowed 11 hours of on the road time per 24 hour period now, and must take a 30 minute break within the first 8 hours, meaning they really only have about 10 1/2 hours of drive time per day ( Keep in mind that loading, unloading, paperwork and pre-trip checks are all included in the “on duty” hours.

New driver recruitment is a factor in the shortage as well…there are less and less young people turning to trucking as a career. With long periods of time away from home, regulations that are in place and changing on a regular basis, and the cost of good schooling carriers are finding it harder and harder to find god quality drivers. Many carriers are now offering sign on bonuses, reimbursement for school, and guaranteed time home in an effort to attract potential employees.

Currently the driver shortage is mostly manageable, but as more retire, and less start in the industry there remains a hole that will only get bigger. And it is not just the carriers and 3PL’s that will feel the impact of this, but the shippers, manufacturers and consumers. As it becomes more and more difficult to find available trucks, shippers and manufacturers will find it harder to get their products out, causing the consumer to either pay more for what they want, and in most cases need, or not be able to find the product in the store. It is the age old case of supply and demand.

Many people in the general public do not realize the very important role that truck drivers play in their world…everything the average person owns moved at least once on a truck before it got to your hands. Truckers really do keep America moving and eating, and clothed….

Trucking is still, and will always be, a good and viable career. As an industry we need to pull together to keep things rolling (in a literal and figurative way!).

Shippers, let’s try to remember that there are real people behind the wheel, who have families to support, and bills to pay.

Carries, keep in mind that not all 3 PL’s and Brokers are out to take your money…many of us are here to help you make the most that you can! (We really do care!)

Brokers and 3PL’s…let’s keep in mind that without good drivers, we don’t have jobs!

Consumers, the next time you see an 18 wheeler cruising down the road, take a minute to think about how long they have been out, how many miles they have driven, and that there is a very good chance they are carrying something you will eventually possess.
And everyone should take a moment to thank them when they get the chance!

How do you think we can reverse the shortage? What are your thoughts on how to find, hire and keep good drivers?

Until next week,

Here are some web sites that you may find interesting or helpful…

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration…..
Driver Solutions (helps pair carries seeking drivers with individuals looking to get into the field)…
Sage Truck Driving Schools (nationwide!)…
The National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS)….