Finding and retaining truck drivers has become one of the most widespread challenges in the transportation industry today. Without drivers, trucks sit idle and freight doesn’t get to where it’s needed. Just how serious is the driver shortage? The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that within a decade, the shortage could reach 300,000 truck drivers.
- Hours of Service rule changes: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established new Hours of Service (HOS) rules that took effect July 1, 2013. Based on the new rules, truck drivers are now limited to 70 driving hours per week whereas the previous limit was 82 hours. This HOS rules, designed to increase driver health and safety, are making it so carriers need more drivers to make deliveries on time.
- New industry growth: As the economic recovery from the recession continues, demand for building materials and retail goods is on the rise. Consumers are spending more, and that means more goods are being ordered to restock store shelves.
- Truck driver retirement: Many veteran drivers from the baby boomer generation are entering retirement age and leaving vacant truck driving jobs in their wake.
- Compensation: Some drivers are dissatisfied with the pay corresponding to the number of hours they put in each week. Unhappy drivers are more likely to change jobs within the industry or leave their truck driving jobs for a different opportunity.
- Equipment quality: A truck is essentially a driver’s home away from home. Old, outdated equipment makes for a poor driving experience and less pleasant living conditions during days or even weeks out on the road.
- Benefits: Full-time company drivers demand good health and dental insurance and other types of coverage. If a carrier is unable to deliver, drivers are likely to leave. In an industry notorious for poor health, providing affordable, quality coverage is an increasing challenge.
- Work/life balance: An increasing number of drivers are only interested in local routes that guarantee nightly home time. Over-the-road truck driving jobs are essential to maintaining the country’s economy, but it’s harder to find drivers willing to be away from home for days or weeks at a time.
Do you agree that these are the biggest causes of the truck driver shortage? What have you personally experienced as a transportation industry worker? We want to hear from you.