Why is the Trucking Industry in Trouble?

Let’s face it– the trucking industry is in significant trouble. One of the biggest reasons is the current driver shortage since the pandemic. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), “The United States trucking industry is short by a reported 80,000 drivers amid the supply-chain crisis.” The country has reached a record for driver shortage, and if nothing is done, it will only worsen. From the current supply chain chaos, delivery delays, product shortages, and soaring prices, the trucking industry is in a crisis as we know it. Let’s examine the ten contributing factors:

Driver Shortage: Looking at the driver shortage, there are several reasons. However, the most significant contributor is the waves of retiring baby boomers. On top of that, people were either forced or chose to retire early due to the pandemic. And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing anytime soon. Here are some other factors worsening the driver shortage:

  • Most drivers are males around 45 years of age or older.
  • The average age of drivers in the U.S. is 55 years old, while the retirement age is between 60-and 70 years old. This means that a lot of these workers will soon retire.
  • Women make up 47% of the nation’s workforce but only 6% of commercial truck drivers.

Employers should break down the stereotype that trucking is a “macho” job for men and clearly state that women are not only wanted but are desperately needed in the industry.

Driver Retention: Driver turnover was 92% at the end of 2020. Why is that? Long hours and uncomfortable working conditions have caused many drivers to leave the industry and make it less appealing for new drivers.

Driver Compensation: Working conditions are subpar, but many feel they aren’t fairly compensated for their work. Drivers are quitting in search of better pay and benefits, or they should increase pay for drivers.

However, employers have continued to raise driver pay in response to the shortage, but some wonder if these wage increases are sustainable.

Truck Parking: Finding safe and appropriate truck parking has been an issue for many years. Now things are worse because many states have closed public rest areas due to COVID-19 concerns.

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA): Although the FMCSA has made changes over the years to address CSA concerns, according to ATRI, “carriers continue to report challenges with data quality, peer group assignments, and challenges with the Crash Preventability Program.”

Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities: 34% of respondents to an ATRI survey reported that detention times increased during the pandemic. Drivers lose many hours of available driving time because of customer facilities delays. This hurts both the driver’s wallet and the company’s bottom line.

According to ATRI, “the trucking industry hauls 72.5% of the nation’s freight tonnage and 80.4% of the freight revenues on the nation’s roadway infrastructure.” The U.S. fails to maintain its infrastructure, leading to a massive loss of time and money.

Insurance Cost/Availability: Insurance premium rates have continued to increase, causing many fleets to go out of business.

Diesel Technician Shortage: Diesel technicians and mechanics are leaving due to low wages, making it difficult for drivers and employers to have trucks fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

Unhealthy Drivers: Unhealthy drivers are one of the biggest reasons companies lose drivers. However, losing just one driver could cost your company anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000, depending on the cargo they transport.

An estimated 360,000 drivers are medically disqualified. However, many conditions such as sleep problems, elevated blood pressure, and blood sugar issues cause driver disqualification. These health conditions can be managed and prevented with better work-life balance and health improvement options. We need to address these issues. It’s time for a solution that improves a driver’s health to get medically disqualified drivers back on the road.