According to the 2017 American Transportation Association (ATA) report, the U.S. currently needs 50,000 more truck drivers than it has and predicts that the shortage could increase over 174,000 over the next eight years. What’s causing this shortage? Well, it’s complicated, says the author of that 2017 report, Bob Costello, chief economist and vice president of ATA.
“The fact of the matter is, this is a very complex issue with a lot of causes. And as a result, there’s no one fix for the driver shortage” said Costello. Some of these causes? Demographics–not enough women or young people–and lifestyle. In fact, the sedentary lifestyle of trucking still deters people from taking trucking jobs despite the potential to earn $50,000 or more per year, reports Costello’s study.
However, things may be looking up. Darrin Pfeifly, director of Crowder College’s transport training program in Neosho, Mo., says people may be changing their minds about trucking as a career. The school’s classes have grown from around 140 per year in 2010 to nearly 500 last year. But companies are still desperate to find drivers right now.
“Of the 113K applications they received last year, only 3% were qualified drivers that they could safely put on the road,” announced the CEO of a large trucking firm at this year’s National Industrial Transportation League Annual Summit
One reason for this is that even willing, younger drivers have to be 21 to drive a truck across state lines, despite being able to have a commercial driver’s license at 18. The DRIVE-Safe Act aims to ease this situation by qualifying more drivers by allowing 18 year-olds to obtain a CDL for interstate travel after increased training.
The ATA study says that the trucking industry needs almost 900,000 new drivers over the next decade. About half of those drivers will be to replace those who are retiring.
A digital TMS can help address the driver shortage by giving shippers NextGen technology and a larger choice of carriers. SwanLeap TMS allows shippers to compare all carrier rates side-by-side, then book the best carrier for a particular job.