The Driver Shortage

The Driver Shortage

Truck drivers are the basic unit of transportation capacity and the glue that holds supply chains together. No container or straight truck or trailer moves without, at some point, a truck driver. Even so, trucking companies, especially truckload carriers, often have great difficulty finding, hiring and keeping drivers. Nearly every period of economic growth is accompanied by a driver "shortage," including the recovery that began in 2009.

What's causing the driver shortage?

Is today’s shortage truly a demographic lack of available qualified drivers, or is it a market shortage created by comparatively low pay and unsatisfactory working conditions? How will federal regulations governing licensing, medical testing, safety enforcement and how long drivers may work affect demand and supply? Unless trucking companies, logistics providers and shippers work together to finally resolve trucking’s “driver problem,” transportation and logistics costs will rise substantially, and supply chains will be put at risk.

Read more:

10 Reasons for Driver Turnover and What Carriers Can Do About It

 

News & Analysis

06 Apr 2020
Trucking companies need plans to keep their drivers healthy, financially whole, and on the road amid the coronavirus outbreak. They need plans for when they get sick, too.
11 Mar 2020
Truck demand and spot rates are rising as consumers stockpile goods amid the spread of the coronavirus, but truckers worry about potential loss of work due to quarantines.
03 Mar 2020
The FMCSA is sending undisclosed changes to truck driver hours of service (HOS) rules to the White House for approval, raising hopes for greater flexibility in truck scheduling.
22 Jan 2020
The freight market has returned closer to equilibrium between shippers and truckers than last year, but a murky middle persists over whether business conditions will flip toward carriers later this year.
10 Jan 2020
Trucking employment slipped in December as US manufacturing remained sluggish, but there are signs demand, and perhaps payrolls, may improve in 2020.
09 Jan 2020
A California judge has sided with Cal Cartage in a lawsuit brought by the State of California, agreeing with a District Court restraining order issued Dec. 31 that AB5 does not apply to trucking because of federal preemption.
06 Jan 2020
The electronic logging device (ELD) eventually will help shippers find trucks more quickly, help trucking companies better manage drivers, and help drivers better manage hours. But more integration of ELD data with other systems and more development are needed to deliver bigger benefits.
24 Dec 2019
With the number of truck drivers in the United States expected to continue rising steadily, motor carriers in the coming years will be focused on to getting the most out of existing drivers' miles and ensuring drivers earn enough money to keep them behind the wheel.
19 Dec 2019
The latest data from the American Trucking Associations shows large truckload carriers cutting drivers and smaller fleets ramping up hiring.
13 Dec 2019
Shippers may find capacity tighter on a carrier-by-carrier, lane-by-lane basis when the final phase of the ELD mandate takes effect Monday.
05 Dec 2019
The best shippers have transportation and procurement teams that are in sync with each other, but cheap truck rates make for a difficult balancing act between pricing and loyalty to carriers.
18 Nov 2019
The number of violations issued to drivers for exceeding hours of service limits has dropped significantly since the ELD mandate took effect, but false log violations rose last year.
08 Nov 2019
A shift to time-based truckload rates will come, eventually, as electronic logging and detention disputes reshape supply chains, a TIA report finds.
06 Nov 2019
The number of speeding violations handed to US truck drivers jumped 7.8 percent in 2018, but speeding has been a problem since long before that. Shippers need to help solve it.
01 Nov 2019
The pace of hiring at US for-hire trucking companies continues to slow as low unemployment and alternative work challenge recruiters.
15 Oct 2019
Shippers are being urged to plan carefully for 2020, as signs begin to indicate the US truck market may swing again next year.
10 Oct 2019
Seven of the top 10 critical issues facing trucking directly involve truck drivers, with pay and detention joining the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual list.
19 Sep 2019
What differentiates good shippers from bad ones? A Council of Supply Chain Management Conference panel discussed how the real conversation for shippers is internal, not external.
04 Sep 2019
Truck drivers are being detained longer during pickups and deliveries, cutting into their driving time and adding to shipping costs, despite efforts by “shippers of choice” to speed those drivers through their gates, a study by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) finds.
28 Aug 2019
The number of US trucking companies rose by more than 21,000 in the year between June 2018 and this June, even as low spot-market pricing increased pressure on smaller fleets.
US truckload carriers still short drivers: ATA
24 Jul 2019
The driver shortage has diminished, but not disappeared, the American Trucking Associations says. Demographics, freight demand, and pay are the key issues.
09 Jul 2019
With trucking employment rising, there are few signs excess US truck capacity will be reduced soon, keeping pricing power in the grasp of shippers.
13 Jun 2019
Trucking companies hauling oversized heavy freight saw revenue jump by double digits last year, but bigger and bigger shipments challenge specialized capacity.
14 May 2019
The FMCSA is seeking comments on plans for a second pilot program testing whether 18- to 20-year-olds should drive trucks in interstate commerce.
07 May 2019
Fast-rising operating expenses for Europe’s road freight industry have overpowered the traditional supply-demand effect with an increase in both capacity and rates.
03 May 2019
A rush to get wind towers in place before production tax credits expire is causing a capacity crunch in the oversize-overweight trucking business.
18 Apr 2019
A large number of small and midsize US trucking companies report competitors charging “unsustainably low rates” in a recent Bibby Financial Services survey.
05 Apr 2019
A drop in the number of truckers at the smallest US trucking companies could indicate a market shift toward large carriers as spot truckload rates seek bottom.
02 Apr 2019
Truck pricing may be falling, but there are plenty of issues to keep US shippers and carriers engaged, including legalized marijuana, tighter driver rules, and automation.
27 Mar 2019
The capacity crunch of 2018 is history, and US truck shippers are enjoying rate relief, but the memory of last year’s crisis keeps collaboration top of mind.
14 Mar 2019
A 20-point second-half drop in driver turnover rates at large truckload carriers indicates aggressive wage increases attracted drivers in 2018, helping to reset capacity in the trucking market.
01 Mar 2019
The DOT OIG's audit of FMCSA medical certification procedures and examiners is one example of how federal regulators are cracking down on truck and bus drivers in an effort to keep unqualified drivers off the road and reduce accidents and fatalities.
A truck travels on a US road.
15 Jan 2019
Even owner-operators work under ‘contracts of employment,’ the US Supreme Court said, which means claims of misclassification, ‘stolen wages,’ can’t be forced into arbitration.
A truck travels on a US road.
07 Jan 2019
The solution to the US truck driver problem will require a proactive, engaged performance by shippers.
A truck travels in the United States.
04 Jan 2019
With competition for truck drivers strong, firms are deploying new tactics to recruit talent.
A truck travels on a US road.
02 Jan 2019
More truck drivers are choosing to work for smaller carriers, and that’s not making it easier for shippers to source capacity. This is the second in a series of articles.

Commentary

The evidence is overwhelming that the younger the driver, the greater the risk of road accidents and fatalities.