In a recent trucking industry publication, I was struck by an interesting coincidence in one of the latest issues. Only a few pages apart in the magazine, were 2 different articles with an obvious connection to one another.
Demand for More Truck Drivers, Even Inexperienced Drivers
The first was an article in which the A.T.A. states that ‘90% of the truck load carriers cannot find enough drivers, forcing them to consider hiring inexperienced drivers’. The article goes on to say that they expect the demand for inexperienced drivers to increase as the qualified driver pool, continues to decrease.
No Wonder There’s a Shortage of Truckers
The second article, stated that carriers are expecting minimal increases in driver pay. This kind of says it all right there. It goes on to give the suspected reasons why truck driver pay won’t increase….. It seems like since the ’80’s, there’s always been one reason or another. But the real reason has always been obvious. The freight rate since the ’80’s has not increased at the same rate as the cost of operation.
A Long, Unsuccessful Struggle
Trucking executives for years have experimented with different formulas, to try to cover the cost of operating within the confines of an increasingly shrinking profit margin.
Look back over the past 25 years at the struggles the industry has encountered,…. to try to maintain a reasonable profit margin in a climate of ever rising costs in insurance, fuel, licensing, equipment costs, increasing tire and shop prices rising on a consistent basis year in, year out, while the freight rates never moved.
The industry has spent a fortune on devices, inventions, ways and means of becoming more efficient to compensate for shrinking profits. No matter how much we tried, the profit margin got smaller and the cost of operating increased, as everyone took an increasingly big bite out of the truckers.
It’s hard to blame them. The cost of living rises on a fairly steady schedule. That’s why good jobs and smart people have cost of living built into their contracts.
It’s also hard to blame tire dealers and shops for increasing their pricing. It cost them more to live every year, so they must charge more.
But, sadly, the most obvious place to cut back, was by cutting into the salary of the truck driver.
Shippers Get Away With Low Rates Which in Turn Means Low Driver Wages
No matter how it’s boiled down, the shippers aren’t paying enough for truckers to be earning the pay they deserve.
Finally, now we’re getting to the breaking point. The huge carriers, the guys that kept gobbling up the cheap freight in their attempts to grow, and lock in market share, always cutting rates on one another, can’t afford to pay their drivers a decent wage.
Carriers hire drivers from other countries, who will drive for less money and they try using inexperienced drivers and take huge risks, hoping they don’t kill anyone on the highway, with their lack of experience. After all, staying in business, seems to always trump safety.
The solution isn’t that different but no one seems to want to force. it. The rates need to increase drastically today, and keep increasing until the truckers are making decent pay. again.
Lots of shippers will scream and some will go out of business and yes, some will have to settle for driving Chevy’s instead of BMW’s.
The Shippers vs. The Truckers
But, it boils down to the shippers or the truckers.
You’d think the huge carriers would know be able to figure that out.
They kind of had the right idea with the introduction of fuel surcharges, but they let themselves be bullied back down on that, and now even they realize, it’s still not enough money.
The answer? Increase the rates and do it now. If not, there will be no one left to drive the trucks.