Truck Drivers Finding Increased Opportunities In Shipping Industry
There was a time—not even very long ago—that truck driving was considered a good job. Up until the industry began facing deregulation in the 1970s, driving a truck paid well, offered decent benefits, and meant you were likely represented by a powerful union that looked out for your interests.
All that began to change with deregulation, which was codified into law with the passage of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. While it was meant to strip away unnecessary restrictions and allow for more competition, what the law effectively did was create a system that relies heavily on outsourcing and contracting, especially through brokers who can more easily balance need with availability. Ultimately, this drove down prices due to the increased competition, reducing the compensation available to truckers.
Another side effect of this sea change in the trucking industry is that the treatment of truck drivers suffered. Not only does the job not pay what it once did, but many of the long hours involve unpaid downtime, which has increasingly been a point of contention between truckers and shippers. Some drivers even get stuck in a position where they have to lease a truck, effectively tying them to the company until they can pay it off.
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Good News For Truckers: Change Has Arrived
In spite of the picture painted above, working as a truck driver is not all doom and gloom, especially after a recent industry shift that has left shippers with a shortage of drivers. For the first time in many years, truck drivers have some leverage in their employment arrangement and shippers are starting to realize that. Because of this shift, companies are making significant efforts to restore the profession to the desirable position it once held.
This comes as a welcome change for truck drivers, who now enjoy better working conditions and standards than the industry has seen in many years. Some of the changes being made include stricter enforcement of payment for downtime (known as detention), quicker turnaround times at stops, and better conditions at rest stops.
Slow loading and unloading times, as well as unpaid detention have been a problem in the industry for some time and this change has long been in the making. Technology has helped streamline many operations, largely through the use of RFID chips to track cargo, helping to better coordinate load times and maximize the efficient use of space. For those shippers that continue to abuse these trucking standards, many of them have found that companies will refuse to work with them until they comply—definitely a win in favor of truckers and the industry as a whole.
Trucking Industry Resources
- Road King Magazine - The online version of the print magazine Road King, this site focuses on trucking from the perspective of health and lifestyle. There’s also plenty of industry news and a nice section about truck stops from around the United States.
- Truckers News - One of the top websites geared toward truckers and the trucking industry, this is a great place to find the latest news and information about trucking.