So, About That Truck Driver Shortage ...

Topic 11485 | Page 1

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Rob S.'s Comment
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Something that I have been pondering.

We've all read that there is a supposed real shortage of truck drivers in North America. So this must mean that there are more goods waiting to be shipped than there are people available to drive them. Is this a correct assumption? And if it is, what happens to this excess cargo, it just perishes on the loading dock? Probably not, so it must get shipped somehow right? And the only way I see this extra stuff getting shipped is if the shippers actually pay up for it, so in the end all the goods that need to be shipped are shipped. Supply and demand meet at a quantity and price.

So is this a real or phantom shortage dreamed up by some who want to keep rates down?

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

James P.'s Comment
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I can't help but think how real this shortage is everytime I recall back to when I'd drive through numerous truck stops and rest areas that were so packed you could hardly drive around looking for a space, if you even bothered to do so. Overfull truck stops and rest areas usually made me think different.

djwaglmuffin's Comment
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I can't help but think how real this shortage is everytime I recall back to when I'd drive through numerous truck stops and rest areas that were so packed you could hardly drive around looking for a space, if you even bothered to do so. Overfull truck stops and rest areas usually made me think different.

I'm pretty sure full parking areas can't be used as an accurate assessment of how many drivers there are to goods and services needing to be shipped...

On that note, I am hearing a lot about how some areas (North Carolina jumps to mind) that is making is illegal in some parts of the state for truckers to park or idle...? These efforts were apparently lobbied by small business interests and...as the saying goes "Money talks and BS walks."

Now, as far as what I've been told by a few recruiters at a few of the carriers I've been in talks with, they said that there are drivers, but most of them want to stay in regional or local jobs, so that's become an issue. There was an also an issue (as per a few articles I read at a job fair) where lots of people are apparently applying, but they're not qualified for one reason or another.

I don't know much about the owner-operator side of things or as far as smaller carriers. Maybe our more experienced counterparts could shed some light.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

The operative word that is many times omitted from this topic is "qualified". There is clearly a shortage of qualified truck drivers. There is however no shortage of applicants or students or trainees. To me (my opinion) a qualified driver is someone who meets the requisite medical (including no substance abuse), clean driving history and criminal background qualifications; has the ability to earn a driving certificate from a school, pass the CDL , prevail through road training and from that point forward become a productive, sustainable professional able to deliver their loads on-time, stay out of trouble and not break anything. If you consider those factors, over a period of one year there is an incredible shortage of qualified drivers. With all of the hiring and training they conduct, trucking companies are barely able to keep up with attrition let alone grow their driver ranks.

It's a difficult job and lifestyle that initially attracts numerous people. Invariably many of them for a variety of reasons are either voluntarily or involuntarily terminated before reaching their first anniversary. I am not trying to dissuade or scare anyone away, unfortunately these are the cold, hard facts. That is why TT is such a valuable tool for prospective and new drivers, it cuts through the sugar coating, helps a person determine if this industry is suited for them and initially prepares you to succeed.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Neglected to mention one other significant factor effecting the shortage, retirement of senior drivers.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

Neglected to mention one other significant factor effecting the shortage, retirement of senior drivers.

That and so many drivers who are tired of all the new regulations along with the fact that Brett has brought up many times about pay rates.

Chris L.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm a local chip truck driver now and we service a mill that normally runs 4 days a week. We run 5 days with Saturday being optional. If the mill runs Friday then Saturday is a required day. We don't have enough drivers to keep up with the mill and play catch up every weekend.

This is just my personal experience with driver shortage. Even as a local driver I run 12 - 14 hour days regularly.

Part of driving truck even local is the long hours. People used to a 8 hour work day and 40 hour week can't or won't do trucker hours.

James P.'s Comment
member avatar

I just shudder to think about how bad parking already is, and then how bad it would be if you added some 100k or more drivers.

Rob S.'s Comment
member avatar
"Part of driving truck even local is the long hours. People used to a 8 hour work day and 40 hour week can't or won't do trucker hours."

The won't do part can easily be offset by paying a man or woman what they are worth. You can't really expect someone to work 12 hours for 8 hour pay!

What Chris L. describes in his work situation is a real driver shortage, but could that shortage not be solved by paying up for more drivers?

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
There is clearly a shortage of qualified truck drivers. There is however no shortage of applicants or students or trainees. To me (my opinion) a qualified driver is someone who meets the requisite medical (including no substance abuse), clean driving history and criminal background qualifications

This is an excellent point. There are indeed tons of people who do not qualify under that definition and they would probably be more than happy to have a career in trucking if the industry would take them, but for safety or liability reasons they can not.

could that shortage not be solved by paying up for more drivers?

Yes it could.

The "driver shortage" in my opinion should simply be described as, "A shortage of people willing to work in the trucking industry at today's prevailing wages". That is accurate.

Labor is one of the highest costs in trucking, as it is in many industries, and companies of course will do all they can to keep wages down. So basically the industry is paying the bare minimum required to keep just enough drivers in the seats. And instead of paying higher wages, many companies will use other options to bring in more drivers like lowering their minimum hiring requirements, paying referral bonuses to existing drivers who recruit new drivers, or financing (sponsoring) a new driver's CDL training.

So there really is a shortage of drivers and there has been for decades now. And in fact without some sort of legislation or technology designed to change the landscape of the industry I suspect the shortage will continue indefinitely.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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