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

20 Jan 2021
Motor carriers must do more than raise driver pay to counteract the current shortfall, including driving greater efficiency in their networks and at shipper facilities to allow existing truckers to make more trips in a given day.
19 Jan 2021
US truckload carrier Heartland Express improved revenue and profit in the most recent quarter and is raising driver pay, investing in new equipment, and focusing on improved utilization in 2021.
08 Jan 2021
Trucking’s peak season extended well into December, blunting a seasonal decline in actual trucking employment numbers and boosting seasonally adjusted job gains, according to data released Friday.
23 Dec 2020
Drayage capacity in Miami is tight due to an unusual late-year surge in fruits and vegetables, cigars, and casual wear, causing truckers to be booked up seven to 14 days in advance.
17 Dec 2020
The truck driver turnover rate is rising at truckload carriers as they compete for employees; that is spurring a new round of pay hikes for drivers.
04 Dec 2020
Although trucking employment is rising, the year-over-year gap is still large enough to throttle back capacity and keep pricing pressure on shippers.
13 Nov 2020
Higher pay is just a starting point for the solution to a resurgent driver shortage, J.B. Hunt’s Shelley Simpson tells the JOC Inland Distribution Webcast. Greater efficiencies, more shipper cooperation are key to improving driver jobs.
19 Oct 2020
Available drivers have been hard to find with such a sudden and sharp rise in domestic and international container flows, placing a great deal of strain on the fluidity of the supply chain.
05 Oct 2020
A substantial increase in heavy truck orders in September begs the question: Who will drive those trucks? Trucking employment is improving, but still down 4.7 percent year over year.
09 Sep 2020
US for-hire trucking companies are rehiring truck drivers at a rate slower than the acceleration of freight demand, contributing to rising pressure on truck rates and US shippers.
28 Aug 2020
A proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pilot project would let truck drivers stop the hours of service clock for up to three hours and then resume driving, giving them more control over their schedules, but a longer day.
29 May 2020
After spiking in March owing to increased demand for essential goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic, truck detention has receded but remains a disruptive factor for truckers that can backfire on shippers when capacity is needed.
14 May 2020
The new final US hours-of-service rule gives truckers more flexibility in how they use their daily hours, but shippers get a gift of capacity that could help extend their pricing power.
08 May 2020
The recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has erased years of trucking employment gains, bringing payroll headcounts below 2006 levels, US data shows.
15 Apr 2020
Detention is a problem for truckers in the best of times. It’s worse amid the pandemic as shippers handle high volumes with fewer dock and warehouse workers available.
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.

Commentary

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