A truck driver shortage has been brewing in the U.S. for years. It has reached a fevered pitch, sending the trucking industry sprinting to meet the raging storm head-on. It’s not a new problem. Trucking companies have struggled with this issue for more than ten years. And according to the American Trucking Associations, it’s not a problem likely to go away anytime soon. If the shortage continues at its current pace, experts predict the industry will be short about 170,000 drivers by 2026. Despite signing incentives and pay hikes, the shortage persists. So what is fueling the driver shortage? And more importantly, what is the industry doing to address the problem?
The Truck Driver Shortage Explained
Older drivers are retiring, and millennials are not rushing to fill the gap. We should not be surprised. While tenured drivers often get assigned premium routes, many new drivers are given routes that keep them on the road for long periods of time. New drivers frequently complain of being able to return home for only a few days each month.
Living and sleeping in trucks, eating consistent diets of fast food, and showering at rest areas can be a challenge. At harbors and warehouses, drivers are often forced to take on extra work, such as loading and unloading cargo. Truckers commonly report sleep deprivation, resulting in physical and mental fatigue. And in spite of increases in salaries, many truckers feel under-appreciated and underpaid. Therefore, the shortage persists. So, how is the trucking crisis impacting logistics?
How the Trucking Crisis is Affecting Logistics
One major headache plaguing shippers and their customers is cargo delays, which translates into inventory shortages at stores. In the past, customers could have their cargo loaded on a truck and moving within just a few days. Now due to the shortage of drivers, customers could experience delays of two or more weeks before an available driver might be found.
Another problem facing the industry is skyrocketing shipping costs. Manufacturers and retailers contending with an unusually tough market are paying stiff prices to keep their cargos moving. These additional costs are often passed on to the end consumer. For example, General Mills has announced increases in prices for some of its cereals and snack foods because of surging freight costs.
The crisis facing the trucking sector is complicated. Many factors have contributed to the problem, and there is no single solution. But, the industry is presenting some suggestions to help address the problem. A few of these solutions are detailed below:
Create Better Benefits Packages
Most carriers are offering pay increases, along with comprehensive benefits packages including 401(k) and tuition reimbursement options.
Give Drivers More Time at Home
Many companies are increasing the drivers time at home and decreasing time on the road, making the trucking lifestyle more appealing.
Lower the Regulated Driving Age
The highest unemployment rate is among people between the ages of 18 to 20. Setting the age minimum of a commercial truck driver at 21 eliminates a large number of competent workers.
Target Minorities, Veterans, and Women
Another means of addressing the driver shortage is finding ways to entice greater numbers of women, minorities, and veterans into the workforce. The solution lies in practical thinking about untapped labor sources.
Resourceful supply chain and logistics companies are honing their skills and becoming more creative in their efforts to find and hire new truck drivers. They have been painting pictures of greener pastures in the trucking road ahead. The trucking shortage is critical, but it is a problem that can be addressed. Contact us at Merchandise Warehouse for more information on getting around the truck driver shortage. We are thoroughly dedicated to helping you improve your logistics management systems.