The Gloom of the Trucking Industry

Black and white of a tractor trailer on a highway with a mountain range in the background.
arrow Go back

The Gloom of the Trucking Industry



The Gloom of the Trucking Industry

With yearly income increases and increased incentives for Americans to become truck drivers, why does America continue to have a shortage in drivers? In an attempt to hire and retain drivers, carriers across the country have increased their pay by over 15 percent by some reports. However, companies still cannot find people to fill the positions. According to the American Trucking Associations, “About 51,000 more drivers are needed to meet the demand from companies such as Amazon and Walmart that are shipping more goods across country.” This shortage in drivers is leading to a multitude of problems for customers and companies alike, leading to delays in deliveries and a dramatic increase in overall costs.

The DC Velocity published an article to offer some insight into early driver turnover rates. Currently, one in three drivers leave within their first three months of employment and new research is aiming to figure out why. The study, conducted by Stay Metrics, looks into the issue of early turnover, which is defined as a “departure within the first year of employment.” Stay Metrics analyzed data from over 100 trucking companies and 62,000 drivers, examining a multitude of factors which you can find here. There is also a link to the full study. The study answers how these turnovers are damaging businesses and what companies can do to stem the bleeding. With more drivers leaving the profession then entering, it’s possible for companies to use these important studies as potential solutions to a growing problem.

Many carriers think the obvious solution is to pay more. Companies are offering signing bonuses and higher salaries as incentives to get more people behind the wheel. They are increasingly finding however, the problem is not only the money; it is also the life style. In The Washington Post’s article by Heather Long about the trucking crisis, she interviews a multitude of drivers who have experience from a few months up to 40 years. The answer from most is that the lifestyle is just not appealing. They all said something along the lines that they don’t see their families enough, which often leads to divorce. This is in addition to rarely showering, limited sleep, and little to no respect on the road from police officers and other drivers, which just adds to the unattractive nature of the business, according to those interviewed.

Other common problems arose from the drivers interviewed, such as for almost all interviewed for this article, the pay raises don’t account for inflation. Truckers who have been working for decades in the industry say that their hourly rates have less value now than they did years ago. As inflation rates have gone up their pay has not kept par. Another problem is the number of new regulations being implemented, including but not limited to the new Electronic Logging Devices which are further restricting the amount of road time a driver can have in one day. While most agree that safety is the main concern, the forced lack of productivity was not taken fully into account. The last most common concern heard from the trucking community is the amount of time they are waiting to be unloaded at the time of delivery in addition to the newly realized extended wait times at the piers and terminals. In order to combat this, many carriers have implemented or increased their fees for the wait times, which often causes losses in business, as the consumer can’t pass the increase along and are forced to pay them to keep the cargo moving. By all indications, the shortages are going nowhere anytime soon.