the 2016 truck driver shortage:
causes and long term solutions

So they say there's a truck driver shortage?  Yes, it's true.... there aren't enough truckers, to fill available truck driving jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

In fact, now in 2015, U.S. trucking companies report there are over 30,000 empty seats, needing to be filled. And worse yet, the problem continues to escalate. Predictions are the problem will continue to grow exponentially in the upcoming years..... figures say over 200,000 empty seats predicted.

How on earth can there be a shortage of truck drivers, when commercial driving schools and trucking companies are pumping out newly trained drivers in droves?

Statistics tell us there are lots of licensed truck drivers without work.  

So what gives here?

 North American trucking companies weep and cry the blues about the empty seats in their company trucks and their big losses in revenue. However, I find it mind boggling they are so surprised drivers aren't lining up to fill these driving jobs. 

The writing has been on the wall for many many years now. Driver turnover rates are in excess of 90%. The numbers don't lie.

We've got a serious shortage of truckers. There's more demand than ever to move goods by trucks, which creates an even greater shortage. But, there are very clear reasons this issue has become so serious.

Nothing has been done  to address this looming issue over the past number of years. 

It's only recently, the powers that be and North American carriers are sweating bullets over filling the 30,000+ empty seats... and wondering how to fix the problem.

What Caused the Trucker Shortage?

Money in the Trucking Industry

The American and Canadian trucking companies are in this mess and have no one to blame but themselves. Many trucking companies have been guilty of implementing tricks and tactics to squirm out of paying the drivers money they've earned.

The problem really boils down to essence, the distribution of money in the trucking industry..... it's not exactly rocket science.

There's MONEY IN TRUCKING... it's just not distributed well.

#1. TRUCK DRIVER PAY IS TOO LOW. A truck driving job was once a good paying career. A job that paid on the average, $43,500, 10 years ago, when costs were lower, now pays $41,000.

Trucker wages from the '60's to '80's, were fair. Drivers were able to support their  families on the wages. They were considered middle class wage earners. Not so nowadays.

The pay is too low to keep up with the cost of living. And meal expenses when on the road? At the end of the day, there's not a whole lot of $$ left in the trucker's pocket.

#2. FREIGHT MOVES CHEAP. We've let the shippers away with this criminal act for a long, long time. Freight rates aren't even close to what they should be.

Before deregulation ruined the trucking industry, trucking companies, company drivers, owner operators and independent truckers were well paid for their work.

Deregulation, however, destroyed the balance in trucking.  It was great for those paying the freight shipping costs and was a boost for the economy at the time. But, in the long run, deregulation brought about the demise of the trucking industry as well as the economy in North America. Just my humble opinion.

#3. TOO MANY RULES AND REGULATIONS. To add a few more holes to an already leaky bucket, the trucking industry is becoming more heavily regulated than ever before.  Many drivers are distressed by the electronic log system and the ever changing Hours of Service regs, and are leaving the industry.

Who Is Left To Drive the Trucks?

 The drivers remaining in the industry are:

i) Truckers who like the work and stay with the job in spite of the stringent rules, regulations. For many, it's a job they still love, in spite of the problems.

ii) Experienced drivers in the better paying positions, close to throwing in the keys and retiring.

iii) Truckers who can't do the math, won't do the math, and ignore the math.... drivers who simply can't afford to quit, scared to quit and are at a loss for an alternate career.

iv) Foreign workers. Workers from other countries will often take jobs in North America and be satisfied with the wages.

How To Solve the Trucker Shortage

Two Truck Drivers Discussing Trucker Shortage

I'm sure the very important CEO's of the big trucking companies think of truck drivers simply as a commodity to be used at the cheapest rates possible.  However, they will need to change their thinking in order to fix this problem.

1. Redistribution of money in the trucking industry......less into the big pockets of the big players and more into the pockets of the truckers. To increase wages of the front line workers, the CEO's and shareholders would suffer big financial hits. THEIR salaries need to be slashed by a few million dollars each year.

Increasing trucker wages substantially, giving them a decent health benefit plan, and a pension would make a CDL trucking job, much more attractive.

Perhaps consider hourly wages, like other trades and professions. Show them the money and they will line up to fill those 30,000+ driving jobs.

Hard work deserves a fair wage. But that's just a pipe dream, I guess. To give the North American trucker a pension, wont' make a hierarchy of teamster board members rich.

2. Truck driving need to be a recognized trade. The job ought to be recognized by the governments as an official skilled trade, with decent truck driving training programs and apprentice programs. This could help prevent this problem from happening again in the future. There needs to be more stringent control over the training and wages of truckers.

3. Freight rates need to increase. Shippers have had it too good for a long, long time now.  It's ludicrous that today's shipping rates are lower than 20-30 years ago, as trucking costs and cost of living index increase.

In defense of the smaller trucking companies, profit margins may be so slim already, they may not have the money to give more to their workers. So, freight rates need to increase to help put some more  money into the hands of the truckers.

We need a sharp increase in rates. We need to say NO TO CHEAP FREIGHT.

Future of the Truck Driver Shortage Issue

Smart Trucking Gal

Presently, there's not enough qualified drivers signing up for these mediocre paying jobs with poor working conditions. And to add insult to injury, truckers ARE NOT TREATED WELL.

Driving a tractor trailer in North America has become a job for immigrants, who will work for less money. They are accustomed to subsistence level living in their home countries, or that is what they need to do, to stay in this country. Wait until the cost of living in the North America catches up with them... then they'll know they can't work for peanuts either.

There just aren't enough incentives to keep the skilled, experienced drivers in the industry AND attract new blood. 

If someone could make more money as a heavy equipment operator, driving a bulldozer and be at home every night, why be a trucker?

The military can attract workers and they are away often a year at a time. The difference? The pay is good.

The industry needs to smarten up and pay truckers a fair wage if they want drivers to KEEP ON TRUCKING. Bringing in foreign labour isn't the answer. It's just a band-aid solution. 

More recently, we're seeing companies offering substantial sign on bonuses and increases in mileage rates. It is a step in the right direction, but it's still not enough.

Will driving a truck for a living ever be as good as it once was 25-30 years ago? Sadly, I doubt that it will ever happen. But, it could easily be better than what it is now.

More Articles on the Truck Driver Shortage.....

Smart Trucking Home > Life of a Trucker

Are Qualified Drivers REALLY in Short Supply?

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Comments on the Driver Shortage

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Certainly No Lack of Drivers 
There is no "driver shortage". If there was, shippers would be competing for the available trucks and prices would rise due to demand. The opposite is …

Unfair to Drivers 
When I drive in snowy conditions, and potentially the truck can roll over, I can be fired and can go to jail in some cases. But, as far as I can …

Fleet Assistant 
As a safety & compliance officer I agree with everything said here!! Trucking companies are the problem...not the drivers...just like where I work...we …

Truck Driver Abuse 
You ask if there is a driver shortage? Well, I certainly hope so! I have been driving now for 35 years. I come from a family of truck drivers: my …

One Big Lie 
No, there is no need for more truck drivers. I have 13 years experience of being abused,overworked and not paid for my work. This industry has caused …

Truck driver shortage 
There is no shortage of truck driver one city was looking for 4 bus drivers at $19.00 per hour to start and $23.72 after 3 years. The city had over 800 …

Truckers Are Spoiled: Work Harder 
Maybe some day the companies will wake up and pay their drivers and owner operators better. But even with a truck that is paid for, those with truck payments, …

A Shortage of Truckers? 
A shortage of truckers? No wonder. Here's my two cents. There wouldn't be if truckers were paid for the work they did , and paid fairly - Drivers …

Apparently you can't be anything.  
Diabetes stands in front of my life everyday. I was a truck driver for 22 years and now have been fired because my body gave me a nice gift of diabetes. …

Shortage? No way! 
I drove for 30+ years and in 1995, I pulled into the yard after being out on the road for almost two months. I walked in to give my paper work to the …

Ain't This the Truth! 
I for one, started in trucking in the 60's. The pay even then was middle of the road. If you worked hard and long hours though, you could drag down some …

Just Another Study on the Truck Driver Shortage 
In Canada, a Blue Ribbon Task Force, consisting of a few members who lead several large trucking companies. Their goal? To solve the driver shortage …

Be Sure A Driving Job Is What You REALLY Want 
I'm becoming a truck driver in the entry level(temp A/Z) I don't have my full license yet and I got an job offer!(SWEET). In my opinion, drivers should …

Not Really An Issue 
I do not believe there is a shortage of truck drivers in North America. What I do believe, is that there is a shortage of true professional truck drivers …

Only a Shortage of Honour 
I think what is missing in the trucking industry, is honour, not drivers. There is very little unity within the ranks of truck drivers and we are often …

There are PLENTY of Drivers! 
I do not believe there is a truck driver shortage in the trucking industry. I can't disagree with anything said. The reality is, you have the law of …

Arrogant and Condescending CEO's and Managers Not rated yet
CEO's and managers are big warts on the trucking industry. They have no respect for truck drivers. We are all just shit in their view. That has to change …

Drivers Are Badly Abused Not rated yet
The problem? I have 0 points and a 0 safety score. I got it because I am not scared to tell a trucking company, to shove it when forced to run outside …

An Industry Tool to Lure in New Drivers Not rated yet
It's a industry tool. Just think about it. If there's a real shortage, why would driver turn over be 200%? The lie is a BS attempt to lure in new drivers. …

A Raging Infernos Not rated yet
Working for an industry built upon lies and deceit is nothing new in trucking. It's the drivers fault in the end and they just tend to put up with the …

I'd Prefer to Be Trucking Not rated yet
"More recently, we're seeing companies offering substantial sign on bonuses and increases in mileage rates." Yes, but there are always strings attached. …

Lack of experience Not rated yet
It seems as if trucking companies in my area of Alberta want drivers to automatically have 3 to 10 years of experience. If nobody will hire them and pay …

OTR is a great job to have IF Not rated yet
Must hate wife and children and have no life. Don't walk run from this it will suck you down you won't recover.

OTR Trucking: No Life Not rated yet
Must hate wife and children and have no life. Don't walk, run from this. It will suck you down and you won't recover.

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There's not a driver shortage. Not rated yet
The problem is simple to fix. Pay me what I'm worth. Let me drive like I can! How is some "law maker" going to better know what I'm able to do than me? …

There IS no shortage.(at least not at the bottom feeders) Not rated yet
I lost a union job in healthcare right as the economy tanked. So after 2 years of unemployment payments(which were double what a made driving, I took my …

No Driver Shortage Not rated yet
There's no driver shortage or it would be easy to get a job. Trust me, for a newly trained driver, it's nearly impossible.

Shortage?  Not rated yet
There's no shortage of drivers. I've been trying for over a year as a newbie and I can't get hired anywhere.... plus the pay is poor.

The real reason... Not rated yet
The real and honest reason that most professional drivers will not drive over the road is because of the companies they work for and below average wages. …

Lack of Pay, Not Lack of Drivers Not rated yet
I couldn't have said it better myself! I was a trucker for over 15 years. I always had a clean record, on time delivery, and everything else that any trucking …

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