Going into 2014, the trucking industry in the United States has raised concerns about a growing truck driver shortage. Truck drivers are essential to the success of supply chains, but companies are having more and more trouble recruiting new drivers.
American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that there are around 25,000 unfilled driving positions nationwide. While occasional driver shortages confined to certain segments of the industry are normal, ATA economist Bob Costello explains that this particular occurrence has impacted carriers throughout the trucking industry. If this trend continues, logistics costs are expected to increase.
Facts of the Matter
A substantial portion of the current driver pool is expected to retire within the next decade, as 14% are between 55 and 65 years old. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average commercial driver is 55 years old, illustrating the overall lack of young recruits.
Industry professionals continue to question the cause of this problem. Many believe that the industry has merely lost its attractiveness. Spending considerable time on the road apart from loved ones does not appeal to young families. Likewise, some fear the limited potential for career advancement. Data from the National Transportation Institute also shows that driver wages have not increased to account for the rate of inflation since 2007.
Others connect the shortage with new federal regulations limiting driving hours for truckers. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration aimed to reduce driver fatigue and protect public safety, productivity is expected to decrease by 8% on average as companies must now work with even fewer available driver hours. In turn, the earning potential for drivers has declined.
These conditions are forcing freight companies to reevaluate their tactics. ATA’s Bob Costello notes that more companies are hiring drivers straight from training programs and almost 75% plan to increase pay. Some are even reimbursing tuition for training programs or offering signing bonuses to new recruits.
Likewise, freight brokers are beginning to consider intermodal transportation options, which combine the benefits of multiple forms of transport. ATA predicts that intermodal transportation will grow at a rate of 5.1% per year until 2018. With the expertise of a freight broker, clients can transport cargo more efficiently and at a lower cost.