How to Make a Huge Dent in the Driver Shortage Nagging the Trucking Industry

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

Female Truck Driver

Key Takeaways

  • The driver shortage is real, but the root causes are unclear.

  • Remedying the driver shortage is not a “bridge too far”.Solving the driver shortage in the New Normal requires a New Approach.

  • A Reliable Trucking Dispatch Service Can Help “Bridge the Gaps”.

In today’s post we look at how to deal with driver shortage nagging the industry We also look at what it means to you as well as owner operators.

By the way, if you haven’t read our last post, you can check it out here. It covers the causes of the driver shortage.

For now, let’s get into what it will take to make a huge dent in the driver shortage. We’ve identified four key actions to help you and the trucking industry.

1 – Redouble Efforts to Recruit New Drivers in a Balanced and Diversified Way

Lots of drivers retired when Covid-19 hit. Some retired sooner than originally planned. So that worsened the normal retirement cycle and the overall employment outlook.

Here are some stats that will open your eyes:

  • The average age of new drivers is 35.

  • 57% of all drivers are over 45.

  • 43% of all drivers are over 55.

As the data show, there’s a huge gap between retiring drivers and the pipeline of new drivers.

The driver shortage is a sticky one that’s lingered around the industry since 2005. To remedy the exodus of experienced drivers, the industry must double down on recruiting and training drivers.

Back then the shortage was 20,000 drivers, now it’s spiked 60,800. This calls for a solution now… before things get worse.

In going for the low-hanging fruit, we have three feasible remedies.

  • Intensify recruitment of women – they’re an overlooked demographic who are severely underrepresented in trucking.

  • Redouble efforts to hire experienced/qualified veterans from the Military Services.

  • Target technical schools and community colleges.

Those three remedies would address the lack of balance and diversity in recruitment. So, taking a balanced and diversified approach to recruiting can make a big dent in rectifying one root cause of the driver shortage.

2 – Retain Drivers with Benefits Packages… that Match Demands and Risks Drivers Face

This one seems like a no-brainer. But it’s not as simple as it appears. In general, pay looks good on paper. In reality, drivers like yourself sound off about getting paid only for your driving time.

Many drivers, like you, aren’t getting paid for the delays, the wasted hours, the extended periods of time on the road... away from family and friends.

But there’s more.

Government regulations limit driving time enforce by ELDs. Traffic jams, detours, etc., only add to the hassles, you experience on the road every day.

Conditions aren’t exactly ideal. Compensation needs to take all aspects of your job into account. Total compensation is the right approach, and that includes more than just cash. It also calls for addressing the intangibles.

More and more companies have recognized this compensation gap. So, they’re making accommodations for family concerns. These benefits would give you more flexibility.

That way you could better manage your work life and your home life. Balancing these two crucial concerns is key to providing robust and relevant benefits.

Besides balancing work life and home life, your benefits should also cover the rigors of your job. We're talking about your daily challenges. We discussed some of those already.

You can add the draining hunt for parking spaces after a long day of driving. To beat the parking challenge, some of you get up at O-Dark thirty. Some of you get up at 3:00 am – starting your day early, so you can finish early.

You need more than a paycheck. You also need a total benefits package that matches your labor and your sacrifices.

3 – Retain Drivers with Dependable Work

This one, too, seems like a brilliant flash of the obvious. But it’s an issue, so we’re writing about it.

Too many businesses – not to single anyone out – don’t work hard for you. Doing that requires diligence and dedication. It calls for a new approach to the New Normal because the old ways don’t work anymore.

For you trucking is more than a job. It’s a career, and more than that… it’s a way of life. That’s why trucking companies cannot treat drivers and their job assignments like transactions.

The same applies to brokers and trucking dispatchers.

Instead, you should look for trucking companies and dispatchers that offer long-term benefits. One of those is secure jobs that provide consistent work.

As with anything, the economy has its ups and downs. And so does the trucking industry. But, on the whole, you should be gainfully employed, especially in today’s market.