Growing demand about truck transportation has stretched America’s trucking industry to its limits. Even though trucking employment in the United States has reached a record high, the driver shortage remains a major problem. According to a recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the driver shortage remains the top industry concern for transportation professionals.
2018 ATRI Report Results
Driver shortage is a common industry issue, and survey respondents ranked it as the number one concern in the 2018 ATRI report “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry.” According to the report
- 29% of respondents ranked driver shortage as their number one concern
- 9% ranked driver shortage as their number two concern
- 6% ranked driver shortage as their number three concern
- Driver shortage took 39% of the total share as a top industry concern
According to ATRI, demand for goods shipped by truck drivers has increased in the past year, surpassing industry capacity. Many transportations carriers struggle to retain, train, and recruit drivers. The American Trucking Association estimates the current driver shortage to be over 50,000.
Increased Demand, Low Interest
The rise of online giants like Amazon and online shopping ventures from brick-and-mortar stores such as Walmart has led to an increased demand in shipped goods. Every day, Americans purchase more goods online with massive shipping constraints. Many retailers offer one- or two-day shipping for their products, which places pressure on American truck drivers. This leads to delayed deliveries and higher shipping costs.
Some trucking professionals cite an inability to recruit and retain new truck drivers due to less interest in the field. In addition, training quality truck drivers is a major challenge. While truck driver employment in the United States remains high, a massive shortage remains. In addition, drivers say that many industry factors lead to less interest in becoming a truck driver, despite the job’s high pay and benefits.
These factors include:
- Less time with family
- Long hours on the road
- Trucking accidents
- Less time for personal hygiene and care
- Difficult qualifications
- Concerns about safety on the road
- Strain on personal relationships
- Sedentary lifestyle
The trucking industry seems to have trouble targeting younger truck drivers who could serve the industry for a long time. Since 28% of truck drivers are aged 55 and older, the impending retirement wave will have severe impacts on the industry.
Proposed Strategies to Resolve Driver Shortage
The ATRI proposes three strategies to combat driver shortage, targeting younger drivers for recruitment. To increase the number of drivers in American trucks, ATRI wants to:
- Advocate for the congressional establishment of an apprenticeship program for young truck drivers between the ages of 18 and 20. This program would aim to recruit and retain safe, young drivers to the trucking industry.
- Work with the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Labor to negotiate truck driver regulations to recruit and retain young truck drivers. This initiative will expand apprenticeship and other professional development programs within the federal government.
- Collect and analyze driver performance data for 18- to 20-year-old drivers who operate a commercial vehicle across state lines. Many policymakers are concerned about young drivers operating trucks due to safety concerns. As a result, many young truck drivers cannot cross state lines. This data could help relax these regulations by proving safe driving practices.
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