The Driver Shortage
A hot topic in the logistics industry revolves around truck drivers. Is there really a
shortage of truck drivers?
If you’re looking for a short answer, the answer is yes! But why are we facing this problem? The truth is, there are several reasons contributing to the shortage.
Let’s tackle some of the reasons one by one.
The lifestyle. To put it nicely, the lifestyle is less than ideal and it’s one of the first thing that people think about. A life on the road isn’t for the faint of heart. While some people see the job as “sitting behind a steering wheel, looking out the windshield,” the reality is that takes a major toll on someone’s body. The long trips across the country, trying to get from point A to point B as fast as possible under strict government guidelines – we will get to that later – can be exhausting. Trying to eat healthy and maintain a good dose of exercise is extremely difficult when you’re stuck in a truck all day and trying to sleep all night. Add to that being at the mercy of the rest areas and truck stops for restroom breaks, the physical impact driving a truck has on a body is much more than one would imagine. That doesn’t begin to mention the wear and tear on your back and muscles due to sitting so many hours of the day. Add to that a lack of home time, loneliness, and the stress of being on the road with the average driver- it doesn’t do much good for an individual’s mental health either.
The regulations. The government has taken a lot of control in the trucking industry in the last couple of decades. The strict hours of service guidelines, electronic logging devices, and constant changes in technology have pushed many drivers to leave the industry and has prevented new ones from taking that leap. Truck drivers have a lot of pressure on them to pick-up and deliver product as fast as possible, but due to these regulations, the time to do so has actually increased. You have to remember, many truck drivers get paid a mileage rate. A lot of the “good-ole-boys” (as the industry would say), are now delivering loads in three days that used to take them two or two and a half days. This decreases how many miles they can run each day and how many loads they can run in a week. Regulations are there for a reason, primarily safety and with good intentions, but these regulations have impacted the pocketbooks of many truck drivers. And let’s be honest- does anyone like their money being impacted? To kick them while they’re down- many of these regulations are paired with hefty fines if not followed correctly.
The generational differences. If you pay attention when you’re on the road, you’ll notice the average age of truck drivers seems to be increasing with time. You’re not just imagining things. The average age of over-the-road truck drivers is about 48 years old according to spotinc.com. About 40-50 years ago, there was a major emphasis on joining a trade and there was respect associated with those decisions. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the push changed to attending college and earning at least one degree. Now the trades are feeling the impact and truck driving is no exception. The crazy part- private fleets have reported the average age for their truck drivers to be closer to 57 years old. Younger generations have been pushed to continuing their education out of high school for a variety of reasons. Add the lifestyle of truck drivers into the mix, and it doesn’t seem to appeal to these new generations.
The pandemic. It was bound to come up for a couple of reasons- age of truck drivers along with new mandates the government and/or companies have created. Many companies across the country have required masks since the pandemic started in an effort to keep the doors open and product moving. Since the vaccine release, many of those same companies have required associates and visitors to be vaccinated. Put all of that together and a lot of truck drivers have gotten out of the industry. On the flip side, truck drivers are traveling across the country, using public facilities, eating in public places, and coming in contact with many people. The risk of contracting COVID-19 along with the fear of bringing it home to the family is very prevalent and has push many truck drivers out as well.
Are these the only reasons? No. This is just a start to the ever-increasing challenges the freight industry is facing due to driver shortages.
The real question is: How do we solve this problem? While we don’t have any inside secrets, we will attempt to tackle the answer in one of our blogs later this month. Check back daily to hear our ideas and what is already being done to fight this fire.