What is The Shortage of Truck Drivers in the United States?
Truck drivers are an often under-appreciated group in the United States, despite being absolutely vital to the US economy's ability to function. According to the American Trucking Associations, also known as the ATA, "Over 70% of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks (see this source)." And with the need to move 10.5 billion tons of freight every year, it's no wonder that truck drivers continue to be in demand.
Though there are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, that's simply not enough, as there is a truck driver shortage in which there's a need for as many as 100,000 truckers.
What's the Reason for This Shortage?
The main reasons why there is such a major truck driver shortage in the country are:
- The average age of a truck driver is 55 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (see this source), and many of them are retiring;
- Men make up 94% of the truck driver work population;
- Truck drivers tend to experience many health problems, which are often chronic, the longer that they drive;
- Not enough people are qualified to be a truck driver;
- The age of the work population, the lack of qualifications, the health issues, and the overall hardships of the profession have lead to a high turnover rate.
In regards to the health issue, truck drivers tend to be chronically sleep-deprived due to pressure to make their deliveries on time. Furthermore, sitting in the sedentary position for hours upon hours, while also eating unhealthy on the road, often leads to them suffering from back pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so forth.
What Can Be Done?
Efforts have been made to try and solve this issue. Some of the potential solutions to the problem include:
- Increase Benefits Package and Pay: One way to attract more truck drivers, as well as to lower the turnover rate, is to increase the wages that they receive, in addition to giving them a better benefits package that is comprehensive and doesn't just treat them as independent contractors.
- Improve the Working Conditions: Truck drivers should also spend less time on the road and should not feel pressured to drive while they're sleep-deprived in order to make the delivery time. Instead, there has to be more distribution centers that are regional-based and there has to be more localized truckers used. Allowing truck drivers to spend less time on the road means that they can sped more time at home and have a healthy work-life balance. Plus, they will be less likely to have a poor diet and suffer from the health issues that plague many truck drivers.
- Hire More Veterans, Minorities, and Women: There should also be more of an effort made to hire more veterans, minorities, and women. By attracting people from these three groups, the truck driver shortage could be solved quickly. Veterans, for example, are very capable individuals who often struggle with transitioning into civilian life due to a lack of career options. Becoming a truck driver can help them a great deal.
Of course, some feel as if autonomous trucks will eventually solve the issue, but that's a still a long ways off in terms of it being viable on a large scale. As truck drivers are the lifeblood of our economy today, more of an effort should be made to improve their working conditions and to attract more qualified applicants.
At A-1 Auto Transport, we fully support all of the valuable truck drivers that we work with, and without them, auto transport services as we know it would not be possible.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.