Truck Drivers Are In Crisis

There Is A Shortage and It's Getting Worse

Truck Drivers Are In Crisis

Looking at statistics, the truck driving industry is short around 60,000 drivers nationwide. This isn't new either, that's been the average number for some time now and many experts believe it will start growing in the near future, hitting around 100,000 or more.

Many people don't consider the role that trucking industry plays within their daily lives. Buying groceries, making purchases at the mall, these are all things that people do day-to-day, however no one gives thought to how the items arrived at the store. No one seems to care about the countless hours a driver spent on the road transporting these items across the nation.

When we break down the numbers, more than 68% of US freight is moved via truck. The clothes you're wearing, the eggs you cooked this morning, all of these things were probably delivered by a truck at one point. When we think about it, every single person is effected by the truck driving shortage. The question is, do some feel it worse than others as the shortage continues to get worse?

A professor at the University of South Carolina specializes in the research of supply chain management and logistics. Professor Furguson believes that the trucking shortage will impact small and local businesses the greatest. When transportation companies lack drivers, they will give priority to their larger accounts first, which leaves smaller businesses alone to fend for themselves, and unable to continue on.

However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of truck drivers is actually at an all-time high. They stated the number surpassed 3.5 million as of early June 2019. With this conflicting information, it can be hard to believe there is any shortage at all. So what's the correct answer? Is there a driver shortage or isn't there?

In the past, statistics on the truck driving industry have shown that for every four truck drivers to retire, only three new ones come in to take their place. However those numbers have changed drastically as of late. Now instead of three to every four, it's only half a driver entering the industry for every four that leave.

There are simply not enough drivers to keep up with the demand of the industry. The numbers are simply not growing fast enough. The amount of goods moved by truck on a daily basis continually grows, and online marketing has increased shipping and supply chain needs.

So what is actually contributing to the driver shortage? Many believe the two main contributing factors are retirement rate and the stigma around truck drivers.

The retirement rate of truck drivers exceeding the number of new drivers entering the industry comes at no surprise. Retirement takes a large chunk out of the industry, one that's not being refilled. However the stigma around truck drivers is a harder hurdle to overcome. The driver occupation is often associated with only moderate levels of education. Most people continue to push for higher education, as they strive to get the higher paychecks that can often come with it; tech or management jobs, office occupying, etc. Trade-skill labor is then placed on the back burner and manual labor jobs like truck driving are left in serious demand.

People underestimate how difficult it is to be a truck driver. The long spans of time spent on the road away from family combined with the pressures of the lifestyle all add up to be a daunting task. Drivers also get paid by the mile. Every time a driver has to wait for a rig to be unloaded or loaded, it's time wasted that they are not being paid for.

Another issue with the driver shortage is that it lacks the ability to attract women to the industry. If we look at the numbers, only about 8% of all long-haul truck drivers are women. If they were able to bring in more women, the industry would have a better chance of getting ahead of the shortage.

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Tonya Davis
See all posts by Tonya Davis