There was already a truck driver shortage in 2019, but then came 2020, and everything that could go wrong did.
COVID-19 shut down factories, but that didn’t stop people from having needs. I mean come on, y’all, we all remember the great toilet paper shortage in spring and summer of 2020, and it wasn’t pretty.
There may never have been a time in recent history that truck driver shortages were so very apparent. And toilet paper was the least of it.
For the past year, truck drivers have been under a great deal of pressure to get orders where they were needed fast, but the logistics of it all were slowed down even more by a driver shortage that grew from the previous year as drivers debated the safety of traveling across county in the midst of a pandemic.
For the last few decades, there has been trouble finding, hiring, and keeping truck drivers on the road.
In 2019, things were particularly bad. The American Trucking Association estimated that there was a 59,000-driver shortfall. 2020 only increased that shortfall, making it the first year since the 2008-2009 recession that the number of drivers dropped two years in a row. Wait, make that three years in a row. In 2021, the driver shortfall is expected to soar as high as 80,000 more from over a year ago. That means the speed of goods from factory to consumer won’t speed up any time soon, leaving behind some dismal lingering effects from the pandemic.
Even worse, truck driver training schools that help potential drivers get their CDL remain closed in many cases, so those who are considering a trucking job are having a more difficult time than ever making it happen.
Check our Local, Regional and even OTR positions near you www.https://tbsdirectory.com/job-board
Why do drivers bounce?
Driving conditions are part of the reason why truckers are in such sort supply.
Some of the concerns from disgruntled drivers who leave the companies they are working for include:
- Driver pay. While Glassdoor estimates that long-haul truck drivers can make between $36 and $84,000 a year, many fall into the lower range, and that pay has not kept up with the cost of living, according to a post last year on smart-trucking.com. Because drivers are paid by the mile, there is a lot of idle time spent on the road – think traffic jams and construction delays – that can prevent drivers from making the money they deserve. That time counts as time on the road, according to regulations, so even if a driver spends four hours on the side of the road waiting out inclement weather, those four hours are considered hours of service, even if a driver doesn’t make a dime.
- Working hours. Many drivers have families, and want to spend more time with them. That’s tough when cross-country runs keep you away from home for long stretches of time.
- Shipping delays. It’s important for drivers to know how much money that are going to make from week to week, and one difficult load – which might not be ready on time, throwing off what is likely a very tight schedule – can disrupt a driver’s routine and cut into his or her paycheck.
- A lack of appreciation. Truck drivers are the backbone of the country. Goods could not be transported from one area to another without truckers, and it’s important for companies to recognize that. If supervisors, dispatch, customers, and upper management treat their drivers with respect, they will be more likely to retain them.
- The job is a dangerous one. It is ironic that some of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. – police officers, firefighters, truck drivers, etc. – are the ones that pay the least. Trucking is a stressful job, and knowing that your big rig can put yourself and others at risk during bad weather, mountain travel or simply exhausted driving can make it even less enticing.
One of the big problems, according to Shelley Simpson, an executive at J.B. Hunt Transport Services, one of the largest trucking companies in the nation, it that while the rest of the world has changed with technology, trucking has been slow to do the same.
Simpson said pay hikes would be a short-term fix, but to improve the situation – truck drivers will long be responsible for carrying goods from one place to another – the entire scope of the job must change.
“This is one of the reasons you see so much technology coming into the trucking industry,” Simpson said in an online interview with the Journal of Commerce, a U.S.-based magazine focused on global trade.
That technology is expected to solve one of the top five problems truckers face, which is shipping and receiving wait times, a problem that can cut a driver’s available hours on the road nearly in half.
By setting appointment windows more broadly – allowing drivers to arrive a bit later or earlier, but still speeding the process of loading or unloading trailers – would give drivers a chance to spend more time on the road, and more time making money.
What does this mean for consumers?
In order to retain drivers, trucking companies are going to have to offer serious incentives, including pay hikes, to their drivers. That alone will elevate the prices of goods and services.
But fewer trucks on the road causes significant delays for some items. Not only have factories been closed or slowed down due to the pandemic, fewer truckers mean items will be delayed even more. Furniture, for example, can take months to arrive, and when it does, it will be pricier than before to make up for all the lost revenue.
Grocery items are also going up in price, and logistics play a big role.
What if you are searching for a job?
But here’s the thing. For all the reasons why truck drivers aren’t on the road, there are an equal number of reasons why they are.
Drivers can see the country more intimately, and there is usually time to explore a bit during down time. And given driver shortages, if you’re a good driver with a good safety record, you’ll have job stability, which is hard to come by in these days of high turnover rates and mass layoffs.
And because there are companies across the country in need of drivers, TBSDirectory (Transportation Breakdown Service Directory, which provides much more than truck repair services) offers a Job Board with listings of countless potential jobs, all in one handy location, so you can find a job that’s close to home and might meet your needs.
To check out available job listings near you, visit the site’s job board – click here – and see some of the myriad options available.
As an example, when I put in my desired job – in this case, company driver – and my location, big names including Schneider, WEL, Prime inc., Welton, and Bynum popped up along with a wide range of local gigs that would likely allow drivers to work during the day and spend nights at home with their families, which is a huge perk for the family men who don’t want to be hassled at truck stops.
There are also postings on the job board for those who aren’t looking for a driving position, but still want to play a role in the trucking industry.
Long-haul, day trips and routes in between are all available, so if you have your CDL – or are in search of a company that will help you obtain yours – check out this site. It offers a wealth of information all in one place, so job seeking, training and more won’t seem nearly as daunting.
Check out the job opportunities on the Free Job Board – www.tbsdirectory.com/job-board