Imagine for a moment that your packages take twice as long to arrive, the produce on your grocery shelves is not as fresh, and the supply chain of many products has slowed dramatically. Those are a few of the consequences of what could happen if this country sees a truck driver shortage in the coming years.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S. trucker shortage is expected to more than double over the next decade as the industry struggles to replace aging drivers and recruit more women. The driver deficit swelled by more than 10,000 to 60,800 in 2018 from a year earlier, according to a study by the American Trucking Associations.
What’s causing this deficit in licensed, qualified, professional truck drivers? There are several factors at play simultaneously that may be leading to these staggering statistics. Here are a few that may have an impact on this industry.
The current demographics of the trucking industry are playing a major influence on the shortage of drivers. Currently, the trucking industry relies heavily on male employees, 45 years of age or older.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old. With an alarming amount of these drivers retiring within the next 10-20 years, we are quickly approaching a dangerous cliff. If new, younger workers aren’t hired into the industry, the decline will be great.
Part of the problem is that the Federal requirement states you must be 21 years old to hold an Interstate Commercial Drivers License. This leaves a 3-year post-high school gap, where possible employees become distracted by new employment opportunities.
A further demographic that is missing from the equation is that the industry is only tapping into one major demographic...men. Women make up 47% of the nation’s workforce but only account for 6% of commercial truck drivers. The problem is that there is a stereotype that the trucking industry is a male industry or unsafe for women. This is not true and needs to be addressed in order to attract more women to the field.
As we have mentioned in previous blogs, life on the road is not for everyone. The long hours on the road, away from family and friends is not what many people want.
In order to combat the lonely lifestyle, trucking companies may be forced to readjust the hours, days, and general schedule that keeps their drivers away from home for long stretches at a time.
The sleep deprivation and lack of nutrition, combined with a sedentary lifestyle is bound to take its toll on drivers eventually. The industry as a whole needs to address the mental fogginess, health risks, and emotional toll this lifestyle can have on some employees.
Stay connected about the trends in our industry along with eLearning courses that are available to help train and improve this work environment.