Discussing the Ongoing Driver Shortage with Better Truck Drivers for America
As we move into 2021, the driver shortage is still one of the largest challenges facing the trucking industry, and it isn’t going anywhere fast. As we come up on nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout, the trucking industry has undergone some serious ups and downs – and the driver shortage has felt the impact.
The driver shortage
Nearly a year into the pandemic, the driver shortage is at one of its highest points it has ever been. The demand is so high for drivers, but there is a stark lack of qualified candidates. For many drivers, the pandemic has offered up the perfect time to take a break from driving. When a driver doesn’t feel safe behind the wheel (traveling to different warehouses, truck stops, etc.) they aren’t going to want to do their job. As people begin to get the vaccine and our population starts to feel safer, the industry may see more drivers re-join the industry.
The evolution from long to short-haul routes
The industry is slowly but surely moving away from the 600-mile-a-day drive route that forces drivers to pound the pavement. Instead, many logistics agents are changing to regional driver schedules and warehouses that allow for shorter-haul routes. Also, as E-commerce continues to grow, private short-haul delivery routes are becoming more and more popular. While this is obviously an appealing industry shift for drivers, it is definitely more expensive to accommodate for carriers. But this is something carriers and recruiters should be aware of over the next few years.
Opening the pool of drivers to 18-year-olds
Jeremy and the DriverReach team are outspoken advocates of lowering the minimum CDL age to 18 in order to recruit a new generation of CDL drivers. Of course, there are costs associated with these changes, as well as increased insurance premiums for carriers. But the key here is the training programs associated with younger drivers. The industry as a whole needs to understand that these new, younger drivers will – and should – receive training that goes above and beyond what current drivers typically receive, and that these training programs are actually being developed in conjunction with insurance companies to reduce risk wherever possible.
The impact of the new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse
One of Dan’s interview questions focused squarely on the impact of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, which has disqualified over 56,000 drivers so. At the base level, disqualifying these drivers with a compliance infraction means safer roads, but it also means that these drivers need to be replaced. During the pandemic, it has been hard to get permits and CDLs because DMVs have been closed, operating on shortened hours, or are by appointment only.
Proactive solutions to address these challenges
Attracting new, young drivers to the industry
Leveraging the good PR the pandemic has brought trucking to continue to re-invent what it means to be a truck driver
Working with recruiters to connect on a deeper, more human level with driver applicants to establish long-term working relationships
Embracing technology and digital solutions to operate more efficiently and deliver better service to drivers
Attracting more diverse drivers, female drivers, and returned veterans to the industry
Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the Better Truck Driver for America blogs for other relevant articles.