The American Trucking Association has forecasted freight tonnage transported by trucks to increase by 27 percent over the next 11 years. This predicted growth is met with concern by many major carriers that the industry will not be prepared with enough drivers. Training and licensure requirements create a barrier to entry that discourages many prospective truck drivers. When combined with grueling work schedules, significant amounts of time away from home, and burdensome regulations, 2016 has seen a massive truck driver shortage.
To encourage more drivers to enter the trucking industry, employers have been forced to offer higher wages and better vacation benefits. “It’s been a challenge to get good, qualified drivers,” said Randy Strutz, President of Quality Carriers in Tampa, Florida, “I expect we’ll probably have to spend more money to find applicants.” Employers are also using fleet tracking systems that track and incentivizes monthly mileages, fuel efficiency, and other performance indicators.
Glassdoor.com, a job search website, performed an analysis of truck driver wages and discovered that wages had increased 7.8 percent as of October, outpacing all other industries. “Our economy is growing, and there are a ton of goods that need to be transported,” said Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist. “Truck drivers haven’t yet been replaced by machines, and they are in very high demand.”
The increased efforts have started to yield results. According to the Department of Labor, the industry has experienced four months of growth as of October by adding over 3,000 new jobs.
Increased wages are not all that trucking firms are doing to address the shortage. In addition to proactively recruiting and training more women drivers, there is also an extensive effort to train military veterans as truck drivers. This includes a pilot program that would lower the minimum licensing age for young veterans.
“Make no mistake, the driver shortage is a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one,” said American Trucking Association chief economist Bob Costello. “Expect driver pay to continue rising as long as the driver shortage continues.”
If you want to learn more about the use of technology to manage fleet operations and keep your rigs on the road, you can learn more here.