The American Trucking Association (ATA) has concluded that trucking companies are currently about 60,000 drivers short. “This gap is only expected to grow and could reach 6 figures by 2024,” said ATA’s Chief Economist, Bob Costello.
“The increase in the driver shortage should be a warning to carriers, shippers and policymakers,” Costello said, “because if conditions don’t change substantively, our industry could be short just over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 drivers in 2028.”
This shortage of drivers will lead to a combination of higher prices for goods and more of out–of–stock items. This greatly affects perishable items, according to the University of South Carolina’s Management Science Professor, Mark Ferguson.
Swafford Trucking’s transportation manager Vernon Rutland says his warehouse and transport company turns away two to three jobs a month because they can’t find the drivers they need.
Swafford Trucking used to pay their entry-level drivers between $17 and $18 per hour and now have felt the pressure to increase rates to retain drivers.
Some truck drivers believe the shortage is due to the new regulations on in-vehicle electronic logging devices (ELDs), which mandates that drivers can only drive their vehicles for up to 11 hours before having to take a 10-hour break.
According to an estimate by the FMCSA, ELDs will help save about 26 lives and prevent up to 562 injuries every year. Fleets with ELDs receive much better insurance premiums because it has been proven ELDs increase fleet safety and insurance companies offer much better rates than to fleets without ELDs.
What’s really causing this shortage?
According to the South Carolina Trucking Association, the top two factors contributing to truck driver shortage are retirement rates and stigma associated with truck drivers.
A lot of truck drivers are starting to retire, and not enough young drivers are entering the workforce to make up for the loss. In most cases, if young, new drivers do enter the trucking industry, they are doing so without adequate training, making it difficult for them to avoid fines or stay on the job.
To combat the shortage, SC Trucking Association President, Rick Todd, said his association is heavily recruiting in high schools. “We want to show these kids these are good, all-American jobs.”
Individuals looking to enter the industry as a truck driver can look to technical colleges and institutes for proper training and courses.