How Did The Truck Driver Shortage Happen?

Throughout the past decade, the trucking industry has struggled with a shortage of truck drivers. The truck driver shortage is one of the biggest issues the North American trucking industry faces today. The driver shortage affects the entire economy, as over 68% of all freight is moved on U.S. highways. And with the shortage increasing driver pay, it can have a significant impact on supplier costs and therefore consumer pricing. It can also increase shipping delays and shortage at stores. 

One of the reasons we’re seeing the current fuel crunch along the U.S. is because there aren’t trucks to transport all the fuel needed by consumers. When the pandemic hit many truckers left the industry because there wasn’t as much product to haul and the rates to transport products like gasoline tumbled. Now that demand is back up, but with fewer truckers to haul products like gasoline, a massive shortage is looming. And it’s not going to be only gasoline it will be all the retail goods just like clothing, food, toilet paper, you name it.

The company Sisu Energy in Texas is offering $14,000 per week salary for drivers who sign on with them. Of course, you’ve got to have experience. That is just over $60,000 a month and close to ¾ of a million dollars in a year. 

Currently, we have a driver shortage of 48,000 and when aligning these numbers with freight forecasts, we could have a shortage of 330,000 drivers by 2024. If carriers start thinking more strategically about untapped workforce pools and continue to offer comprehensive benefit packages with competitive pay, we can fix this problem. Another option is to focus your shipping needs on less than truckload shipping, where driver’s are given shorter, more localized routes, allowing them to come home each night.

One of the largest issues influencing the driver shortage is the demographic of the current workforce, primarily age, and gender. The trucking industry relies heavily on male employees, 45 years of age or older. In an effort to help fix the truck driver shortage, ATA and more than 100 organizations are making a bipartisan push to lower the minimum legal age of truck drivers in interstate commerce from 21-years-old to 18-years-old. The legislation they are trying to move forward in Congress is called the “DRIVE Safe Act.”

We’re already seeing what it looks like when the supply chain breaks down in places like Atlanta, Georgia and Durham, North Carolina. So $14,000 may sound like a lot, but trucking requires brutally long hours and time spent from home away from family. I’ve never been a trucker, but it seems the physical, emotional and mental toll of a job that keeps America running merits the pay day. 

And truly I believe that one reason not to take this job is the comfort that truckers are not getting from their employers. The lack of respect and often poor working conditions are one of the key reasons why truckers are leaving the business. In this case it’s up to the Fleet Management to invest in their employees. Mattresses, Good Pillows, Safety Gear, Seat Cushions, Air-Humidifiers and a lot other small things that can be added to the cabin for the drivers to feel home away from home. 


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