The Lack of Truck Drivers – is it still plaguing the trucking industry? Statistics for the last year confirmed that there was a shortage of around 50000 truck drivers. So, unfortunately, the answer is – yes. According to American Trucking Association, if this shortage trend continues – the shortage will rise up to 176,000 in 2026.
What are the reasons that stand behind the shortage of truck drivers and how this problem can be solved? It is also important to make a distinction at the beginning – this shortage applies to long-haul truck drivers and over-the-road truck drivers. LTL carriers and private fleets remain unaffected at this moment.
Trucking during the pandemic era
The trucking and transportation industry represents the backbone of every industry and operation in the USA. Over 68% of freight is moved on US roads so this problem is plaguing the entire economy.
If you think this is exaggerating – we all felt it just for a moment during the COVID-19 pandemic. That was the time we experienced delays and everything seemed like it just stopped.
The entire 2020 was eventful in many ways – the beginning of the year was slow with driving demand decreasing by approximately 38%. Yet somewhere in the middle of 2020 tables had turned again. That is when the job postings for truck driving jobs grew by 60%.
Despite the COVID-19 slowed things for the moment but then things went full speed again.
Reasons behind truck driver shortage
Choosing a career as a truck driver brings a myriad of benefits but also a lot of challenges. For example one of the reasons for the shortage of professional truck drivers is a challenging lifestyle.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – on the list of the most dangerous jobs in the USA, truck driving took the 6th spot with total fatal injuries of 966 in 2019.
Also, health is also a very big concern – due to a sedentary lifestyle most truck drivers are at risk of obesity. Due to a long time on the road, a lot of truck drivers may experience sleep deprivation. Working hours are often harsh because sometimes carriers forget that there is a human being behind the wheel. There are many issues to consider about a career in trucking.
Demographics and age are also a great problem plaguing the industry. Did you know that the average truck driver is 55 years old? In 10 years, most of them would retire and it would happen all of the sudden and with this tempo – there won’t be enough young drivers to replace them. This is another obstacle in the industry – you should be 21 years old to obtain a CDL.
So after school, it leaves you with 3 years of waiting while you will most likely search for different career opportunities. Also, 47% of the workforce consists of women and just 6% are commercial truck drivers. It is a stereotype that it is a job just for men – women are much needed to back up the industry facing the shortage.
There is another issue that is maybe the most important on the list – wages are growing slowly and that is what is causing the hiring issues in trucking companies. Competitive pay is the most important factor in the end. Current wages are not competitive according to drivers.
How to solve the truck driver shortage?
There is no universal solution to this problem because the problem is much more complex. But a few potential solutions emerged and shown that there is still hope for this issue:
Better pay for drivers
Increasing the driver pay is the first step toward an easier hiring process. Most trucking companies are already trying to apply this strategy by offering competitive pay, 401(k)/tuition reimbursement options, sign-up bonuses, comprehensive benefits packages.
Lowering the Regulated Driving Age
This could be a perfect solution for both sides. The 18 to 20 age group is the group with the highest unemployment rate at this moment. So moving the limit from a minimum of 21 years would solve a problem with shortage and unemployment as well.
This could be also for improving the quality of training programs in truck driving schools since security on the road would play an important role.
Better job conditions
Weeks on the road and no home time often lead to decreased satisfaction with the job. So make the trucking lifestyle less stressful and much healthier. This will instantly remove the problems with the lifestyle we mentioned already.
Targeting veterans and women
We already mentioned that women are a much-needed addition to the trucking industry. Veterans are often difficult hires but they would benefit the trucking industry and successfully make a transition to another challenging and fulfilling career.
Truck driver shortage affects every aspect of the economy so it is important to utilize all the possible solutions or we will face the consequences in 5 to 10 years when the real effects show up. The solution lies in the combination of much flexible education for younger groups, increased wages, and better conditions. In accordance with that lies the main reason why you should consider choosing a great trucking company.
CDL Hiring Solution’s primary goal is to provide the best offers for future truck drivers. Feel free to contact us!