Recent news has brought more public attention and awareness to a major issue affecting the transportation industry; there is a shortage of truck drivers. For the last few years, the transportation industry has been closely watching driver retention rates fall. A driver shortage in the transportation industry affects the entire economy, having a significant impact on supplier costs and consumer pricing. It can also increase shipping delays, create shortages in stores and even affect the available hours and income for workers in retail and other industries that rely on trucking shipments.
The transportation industry is currently short upwards of 50,000 drivers and is already seeing some of the effects that the driver shortage is having on how carriers are able to do business. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), if the shortage continues at its current rate, the industry will be short by approximately 170,000 drivers by the year 2026. In order to combat the growing driver shortage, transportation companies need to make some changes to their hiring and recruiting efforts as well as how they operate in general.
Why is There a Truck Driver Shortage?
In order to make changes for the better, it’s important to understand what the factors are that are contributing to the driver shortage. The top reasons for the transportation industry’s driver hiring and retention challenges are:
- Retirement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old. In the next 10 years, most or all of the drivers at or above this age will be retiring. Due to health regulations issued by the Department of Transportation (DoT), many drivers find themselves retiring before they’d like to because of common health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Minimum Age Requirements. An obvious answer to the challenge of retiring drivers is to recruit younger drivers into the industry. However, currently regulations require truck drivers to be at least 21 years old to get behind the wheel, eliminating a large number of eager would-be drivers who are recently out of high school and looking for employment but are still too young to enter into a trucking school program.
- Lifestyle. A lot of trucking job opportunities require long hours and a lot of time spent away from family. In a society that has placed an increasing amount of importance on the work/life balance, the lifestyle of long-haul trucking has become less desirable.
- Compensation. The average income for truck drivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $42,480 per year. As cost-of-living increases across the entire country, would-be truck drivers are opting for jobs in which they can bring in more money.
How Can Transportation Companies Combat the Driver Shortage?
The driver shortage is an industry-wide problem, but transportation companies can make changes individually to help combat the shortage while benefiting their own businesses.
- Increase Pay for Drivers. One simple way to attract and retain drivers is to offer better pay. Carriers that offer pay increases, comprehensive benefits packages, 401(k)/tuition reimbursement options or better compensation structures have been found to have better retention rates that carriers that don’t offer any additional incentives.
- Lower the Required Driving Age. The 18-20 age range group happens to have the highest rate of unemployment of any age bracket. Lowering the age minimum of a commercial truck driver opens up a large pool of eager and competent workers who are ready to fill the open position.
- Increase Safety Efforts. The lifestyle of a trucking is not an inherently safe or healthy one, but changes can be made to make it safer and healthier. Wholesale trucking insurance programs can help protect carriers from financial loss due to accidents and liabilities and can also assist carriers in increasing safety measures for drivers and reward them for their efforts. Increasing safety efforts can help improve driver longevity and retention in the long run, giving the transportation industry a fighting chance against the driver shortage.
About American Team Managers Insurance Services
Founded in 1998 by Chris C. Michaels, American Team Managers Insurance Services (ATM) has provided wholesale and MGA services to more than 5,000 independent insurance agents throughout the United States. Our goal is to establish close, long-term relationships with our agency partners and insurance carriers and provide competitive products for the Exclusive and Non-Exclusive markets that we serve. For more information on our products and services, give us a call at (714) 414-1200 to speak to a representative.