As trucking grows post-pandemic, one cog of the machine seems to be impacting the rest. Truck drivers are an essential part of trucking and the supply chain because they help the economy keep moving. With a shortage of drivers, a domino effect will unfold, marking a turbulent time for the trucking industry – and that time is now.
Drivers are an integral part of the supply chain, however, not enough people are willing to take the wheel in this position. But what does it mean to have a truck driver shortage? Are drivers refusing work, or is there simply a shortage of labor?
Get details about what a truck driver shortage means, what factors are contributing to it, and what trucking companies are doing to grow interest.
Without Truck Drivers, What Would Happen?
Without truck drivers, we would see supplies begin to run low. A lack of drivers means there are fewer people able to transport goods to their destination, so current supply chains would be strained. This means necessities like groceries, health products, and fuel would run low and when you need something, it may not be available to you.
In terms of buying non-essential items, a unique situation arose during the pandemic due to an influx of eCommerce demand from purchases influenced by stimulus checks. In the first quarter of 2021, eCommerce increased by 39.0% year over year in the same quarter of 2020. Most online shoppers have experienced slow shipping and/or longer delivery time, all due to a shortage of labor.
Related: What Would Happen if Trucking Stopped?
Factors Contributing to the Truck Driver Shortage
Older truck drivers are retiring, and there aren’t enough people looking to take the wheel. A career in trucking hardly crosses the minds of young adults, but anyone with a commercial driver’s license can become a truck driver. With additional education and experience, a trucking career is on the horizon for those who consider it.
Drivers that come into the trucking industry tend to be older due to legal restrictions. A young driver can obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age of 18; however, federal law prohibits commercial drivers under the age of 21 from driving across state lines. Although there is progress with the DRIVE Act to alleviate this issue, it impacts a young person’s ability to start driving.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) revealed that there was already a shortage of drivers in 2018, and the shortage will triple if drivers continue to decline. The pandemic exacerbated the shortage and strain on trucking, making this issue a bigger one. It also posed a roadblock for those who wanted to step up, because commercial driving schools were closed and people could not attend.
Related Article: What Trucking Companies Should Know Going into 2021
How is the Industry Reacting?
Trucking companies are responding to the shortage through several tactics. The Society for Human Resources noted that companies are offering more pay or a generous sign-on bonus to attract drivers. However, with little traction on these offers, money may not be the key factor for people to get into this career path. The publication also mentioned that trucking companies may provide additional incentives, like work flexibility or driving local routes. Widening the pool of applicants is another way companies are increasing the number of truck drivers; for example, the industry is reaching out to women, traditionally underrepresented in the trucking workforce.
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