Experts within the industry have been raising the red flag to warn fleets about the driver shortage for years. However, as the freight economy continues to surge, the shortage will only worsen. In 2017, there were approximately 50,700 too few drivers to meet the existing supply demand. These numbers soared in 2018, increasing this shortage to 60,800.
According to these same experts, things will reach a breaking point in the very near future. The shortage will surge to 100,000 within five years and tip the scales at 160,000 by 2028. If nothing changes, there will be severe disruptions in the supply chain.
What Can Be Done to Combat the Shortage
Some existing efforts help address the driver shortage issue. Improving driver pay and quality of life are significant contributors; however, efforts to recruit women and minorities can help turn the tide as well. Experts point out that changing current regulations may do a lot for enticing new drivers.
For example, existing rules dictate drivers must be 21 years of age to operate in interstate deliveries. There has been some support for the idea of lowering this age to 18 to appeal to recent high school graduates looking to earn a comfortable living wage.
That being said, the shortage is a complex problem that doesn’t have one simple solution. Industry insiders suggest the following range of solutions to help address the shortage:
- Increase driver pay
- Increase at-home time
- Improve the image of truck driving
- Address long wait times at shippers
- Ease the transition for individuals with prior military experience into truck driving
- Reduce the age for interstate truck driving
The trucking industry will need to rapidly ramp up employment efforts to the tune of 110,000 new truck drivers per year, every year, for the coming decade. Of course, fleets have the added layer of quality to contend with. It’s not enough to hire drivers to fill seats. Fleets need qualified drivers that can perform the job well and safely.
DriverCheck understands the need to hire safe and competent drivers. With our How’s My Driving? Program, fleets can track their most reliable drivers as well as those that need improvement. We also provide telematics solutions to implement targeted safety improvements. Contact us to learn how we can help your fleet.