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Truck Driver Shortage Continues to Plague Freight Industry

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The truck driver shortage is nothing new, but freight companies are still having a hard time finding qualified truck drivers.

New regulations mean fewer drivers meet necessary legal standards — leaving hiring managers with major headaches – while some potential drivers stay away because of the demands associated with a trucking lifestyle. The challenges have led to severe shortage of people lining up to replace the current generation of drivers.

The Growing Issue for Trucking Companies

At the end of 2012, the American Transportation Research Institute ranked the driver shortage as the fourth biggest issue facing the trucking industry.

With the need for truck drivers increasing in recent years and expected to grow more, the mismatch could cause fleet owners financial pain. However, it may boost the salaries and benefits of existing truck drivers.

At the crux of the shortage is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s implementation of tough, new rules meant to keep unsafe drivers off the road. The shrinking pool of qualified truck drivers comes at a time when economic growth is boosting demand for freight haulers.

According to information from the Labor Department, the trucking industry added 11,700 jobs in April alone.

Others say a high turnover rate of drivers, an increasing number of retiring truckers, unappealing working conditions and long hours contribute to the lack of qualified drivers, as well.

Small trucking companies hiring drivers are likely to be most hurt by a lack of employable drivers. They may not be able to compete with higher salaries offered by larger competitors. Additionally, complying with new rules will be costly and could cause productivity to drop, likely forcing some to go out of business or merge with another company.

Solutions for Trucking Companies

There are things smaller trucking companies can do to recruit and retain truck drivers, such as offering discounts on fuel, service, prescriptions, and hotels. If a trucking company is having trouble with cash flow and meeting payroll, solutions such as factoring their freight invoices can help.

For qualified drivers, the problem is not as complicated. The shortage will probably mean an uptick in pay for those who meet hiring standards, and more job-related perks, such as free training programs and better hours.