Causes Ripple Effects Throughout Industry, Economy is Shortage Of Truck Drivers
There was a significant shortage of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. in 2018; something that will likely continue through the end of 2019 and possibly beyond according to recent reports. This development comes as something of a surprise since the industry has made efforts recently to improve working conditions and compensation in the transport industry, both from regulators and owners.
Many companies now offer a decent wage with average salaries expected to be around $60,000 annually, not to mention that many offer their drivers sign-on bonuses. As several drivers have found out, however; the signing bonus is quite often based on certifications and performance that may or may not be met in all cases, making them difficult to earn. In many cases, even if a bonus is earned, it gets paid out gradually over time rather than in a lump sum as some drivers may expect.
Still, one would think that a decent paying job with a low barrier to entry would attract more than enough applicants. According to many drivers, the issues has more to do with the lifestyle than the paycheck. Long hours alone on the road, unhealthy eating habits, long waiting periods, and time spent away from family are all strikes against working in the industry for those that know it best.
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Other Factors Affecting Truck Driver Shortage & Possible Changes
While it is a net loss for the industry when there’s a lack of drivers, it does increase opportunities for those doing the job. As mentioned above, higher salaries, better conditions, and driver perks have increased along with the demand for drivers. In fact, 2018 was a very good year for drivers by many measures with 2019 expected to present even more of a shortage—some estimates even put the number well over 100,000; more than double to reported 2018 shortage.
Part of the driver shortage can be explained away by pointing to large retailers, both online and brick and mortar, that have constant need for delivering goods (think Wal-Mart and Amazon here). There is also stiff competition when it comes to attracting drivers, causing companies to pull out all the stops when it comes to finding enough people to handle deliveries.
However, there is a very real concern among drivers that the future of the industry lies in automated and self-driving vehicles. Naturally, this concern makes some reticent to get into the line of work in the first place. Couple that reality with the fact that drivers often have to deal with the worst side of drivers on the highway, in addition to the high fatality rate relative to other industries and the picture starts to become more clear as to the difficulties faced.
American Trucking Associations News - Find all the latest news in the trucking industry by visiting the website for the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association - Another great resource for staying on top of the latest news and notes about the truck driving industry. The OOIDA is an organization that works to protect and improve the rights of trucking professionals.