The trucking industry has been struggling with a driver shortage issue since 2005 according to the American Transportation Research Institute. The driver shortage stems from the Great Recession, yet while other industries have recovered, trucking has yet to rebound. Several factors have led to the driver shortage, which is expected to reach a shortfall of 240,000 truck drivers by 2022. How can you restructure your business to correct the causes of the driver shortage? Let’s investigate the possibilities.
Driver Shortage Facts
According to a 2015 study done by the American Trucking Associations the most prominent causes of the driver shortage are:
- The average age of commercial drivers is 49, which is relatively high for the over the road industry.
- Only 5.8 percent of truck drivers are women, whereas women comprise more than 45 percent of the US work force.
- Qualified drivers are hard to find; trucking companies must hire drivers with experience to combat insurance and operational costs associated with rookie drivers.
- Driver pay has increased in order to attract drivers to companies, yet this puts a financial strain on these companies and reduces the ability to hire more drivers at the higher rates.
- Competition from other industries and companies is pulling drivers away from steady trucking jobs.
- Potential drivers are steering clear of trucking due to lifestyle concerns, i.e. being away from home weeks at a time, stress of the job, etc.
These issues are across-the-board and there is no easy fix. However, for your trucking company you have the flexibility to test out solutions to these problems.
Solving the Driver Shortage Issue
Taking the most problematic factors causing the driver shortage, consider how your business can adjust and make improvements. Furthermore, since drivers are over the road more often than in the office, it’s important to improve the big rig work environment. For example:
- For attracting younger truck drivers, consider offering millennial-friendly tech perks, such as in-cab satellite service or free smartphone plans, to make their life over the road easier.
- Attract women by adjusting the culture of your company to be more respectful of the opposite gender, i.e. use gender-neutral wording on job recruit ads, etc.
- Offer tuition reimbursement or free on-the-job driver training to help new drivers get proper trucker training without the hefty price tag.
- Provide opportunities for drivers to mix and mingle, such as during monthly events where drivers and their families can hang out and develop a sense of community.
- Ask your drivers what their most pressing needs are, such as finding healthy food or wellness programs over the road, and provide a viable solution for their problems.
- Communicate with your drivers on a regular basis, and in person whenever possible, to help increase morale and reduce driver turnover, which is another factor related to the shortage.
The bottom line is that if you want to attract new drivers to your trucking fleet, then you must establish a company with a beneficial work environment. Additionally, as the driver’s work environment presents special logistic challenges, it’s important to focus on what driver’s want most. The nation needs truck drivers to keep the economy moving. By working to reduce the driver shortage through focused changes to your drivers’ work environment, your business is in a prime position to excel.