The shortage of truck drivers continues to be a problem as the trucking industry is short roughly 80,000 truck drivers this year, which is up from about that same amount in 2018 reported by American Trucker. Some of the issues with the shortage is the pandemic related issues that have occurred this year impacting driver retention and hiring, another issue is the demographics problem when it comes to trucking.
In order for commercial truck drivers to haul interstate freight, they must be at least 21 years old, however according to Bob Costello, a chief economist for American Trucking Associations (ATA), the average age to get trained is 35 years old. Costello continues saying, “For-hire truckload will be the lowest age bracket, but they are still in the high 40s. LTL and private fleets are over 50 years old.” Which means the trucking industry has a lot of retirements, which can be a significant problem. Another thing to put into perspective and think about is not even 8% of the truck drivers in the industry are women.
These demographics trends aren’t anything new as ATA has continued to see the same reasons for shortages since 2005. However, there are some new factors that have inflamed the shortage. When the pandemic began in early 2020, Costello says, truck driving schools and state commercial licensing agencies stated they trained and awarded CDLs to significantly less drivers last year than they have in any normal year, which will definitely impact an industry. Inadequate infrastructure and a lack of available parking for trucks have also had a direct impact on the driver shortage.
As local trucking jobs are up, and long haul is essentially flat, Costello fears the decrease in drivers will continue now and through the immediate future. Many truck drivers are wanting to be home more often, truck drivers retiring, and people being pushed out due to failed drug tests, driving records, and industry growth, all of which are reasons why hiring and retaining drivers has been difficult lately. To learn more, reach out to a team member today!