An increasing number of trucking companies across the nation are shutting their doors due to a shortage of drivers. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the shortage has been well documented for years and was anticipated to last at least five years. The ongoing shortage is expected to deepen in the near future, according to the ATA, and could affect both small and large commercial trucking companies.
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“We see it in the case of new drivers – those who are just getting started,” says Don Wright, executive vice president of the ATA. “There’s not enough truck drivers to keep up with the growing volume of freight out there.”
Smaller companies typically rely on larger trucking companies as customers. These trucking companies often require that their new drivers get experience on larger, more profitable trucking routes. This increases the chances of ending up driving for a larger company as opposed to a smaller one.
New drivers are also often more anxious than they used to be. They may be more likely to come to work in a driver’s suit with his or her head sticking out of the window. This often involves driving routes they don’t necessarily want to take, including large metropolitan areas with higher turnover and low pay.
Wright adds that hiring a new driver is especially difficult for larger companies because the cost of hiring and training a new driver is considerable. Smaller companies, on the other hand, can afford to pay these extra costs because their businesses don’t operate in the same volume as the larger companies.
One of the potential solutions to the trucking shortage is for trucking companies to use recruitment software found on this page to help them find new drivers. Alternatives include attempting to create more incentive for young people to get into commercial trucking.
“Part of the reason why we see so many young people get into driving trucks, particularly commercial trucking, is because we have such low pay and our benefits aren’t the same,” says Wright.
Trucking companies are typically reluctant to pay young people the kind of pay they would normally offer older workers with more experience. But Wright argues that young people tend to be motivated by the prospect of higher pay. According to him, a new commercial truck driver could theoretically earn more than $75,000 per year at an entry level position. These drivers can often expect to double their pay over time.
A job offer of this size can give a young person plenty of incentive to overcome any initial resistance to taking the job.
“I know some of these older guys who thought that driving was a dirty job and they didn’t want to do it,” says Wright. “But what young person can walk into a job where he’s making $70,000 – or even more than that, in some cases – and say no?”
Truck Driver Shortage Means Higher Prices
Another potential solution to the trucking shortage is for trucking companies to raise their rates to cover the increased costs of hiring and training drivers.
“Many companies that want to raise their rates say they can’t because they don’t have enough revenue,” Wright says. “But they don’t say they’re losing revenue because there aren’t enough drivers out there.”
The average truck driver has about three to four years of experience.