For a variety of reasons, the U.S. trucking industry faces a major shortage of qualified truck drivers. This has slowed down the movement of freight and raised transportation costs. The problem is expected to become significantly worse in years to come. Some state governments, educational institutions and trucking firms are working to find solutions to recruit more truck drivers.
Driver Shortage Predictions
The American Trucking Association (ATA) reports that 9 out of 10 truckload freight carriers remain unable to hire as many truck drivers as they need. There is currently a shortage of approximately 22,500 truckers. The ATA predicts that it could increase by about 216,000 drivers in the next 10 years.
One problem is that there aren’t enough people with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Columbus Business First indicates that the number of truckers in Ohio with CDLs decreased in 2011. Texas has experienced a significant increase in accidents that involve trucks without commercially licensed drivers, according to KOSA-TV.
Many other issues have contributed to the truck driver shortage. More buildings are being constructed, and retail sales have strengthened so the need for more drivers is increasing. The booming oil industry in western Texas uses many trucks. The ATA identifies retirement as the largest contributing factor to the driver shortage. Many truckers have switched careers as well. New safety regulations also play a role.
Recruiting Truck Drivers
Some companies are offering more pay and benefits to encourage people to work in the trucking industry. For example, K&B Transportation in Nebraska recently issued a press release on its recruitment efforts. It stated that the company provides three types of insurance and various cash bonuses. It also offers to pay truck drivers to undergo training.
The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that state authorities have stopped requiring military truck drivers to take a difficult test before they can drive commercial trucks. Meanwhile, some state governments and universities have created educational grants to help people learn to drive large trucks.
Many retailers have begun to use dedicated fleets. A trucking company can devote a certain number of trucks to a specific company. This protects the retailer from driver shortages. Dedicated trucking also enables drivers to spend more time at home, according to Delaware Online. It could help end the shortage by encouraging more people to become truck drivers.