Driver Shortage Tops 2017 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry List

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released the annual “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry” report for 2017. The top issue this year is a driver shortage, which has not been on top of the list since 2006. Driver shortage shocking enough shot up about six spots higher this year. The top five concerns listed in the report all relate to truck drivers.


Why Driver Shortage is Becoming a Major Concern for the Industry


The most recent data from the American Trucking Association indicates that the trucking industry is short nearly 50,000 qualified drivers. The shortage has more than doubled since 2005 when the industry was only short 20,000 drivers. Industry insiders estimate that the shortage could rise to a shocking 170,000 by 2025. If the shortage becomes that severe, the trucking industry’s capacity to deliver freight loads will be severely limited. The effects of the problem would then affect other related industries as well.


Exacerbating the driver shortage problem is the average age of the truck driver, which has been on the rise. Currently, the average truck driver is about 50 years old and won’t be on the road in a decade or so. The industry has not been able to replace the qualified drivers who are retiring. Even though trucking is one of the few well-paying jobs available to people without a college degree, no one is lining up to be a trucker. The reasons for this are many. The trucking life has a reputation for taking a toll on drivers, who spend weeks on the road away from families. Automation is also a concern for workers, who might fear that they could lose a driving job to a robot in a few years.


However, automated self-driving trucks are still not a reality, so the driver shortage problem the industry faces is not being realistically addressed.


Truck Drivers’ Concerns Take Center Stage


For the first time in years, the majority of the top problems the trucking sector is concerned with relates to drivers. After the driver shortage, concerns about hours of service and ELDs took the top spots. Drivers are getting concerned about what full implementation of ELD would mean for them.


Truckers are also mainly concerned about the flexibility of hours of service because of the new restart provisioning. Another top issue was related to parking for commercial trucks. Driver distraction and health and wellbeing of drivers were also among the top ten concerns the industry is facing.


How the Industry Can Alleviate Critical Issues Related to Drivers


It’s become obvious that the trucking industry should focus on the drivers to fix many of the issues facing the sector. There are, of course, no small answers to complex questions. However, simple tools might assist in helping, at least a little. Apps like HWY Pro, co-developed by Bill Busbice, aims to increase efficiency levels for truck drivers so that they can manage time better and have more time for rest. Tech innovations like HWY Pro might even help companies recruit new drivers who want to follow a simple and easy process when driving.


ATRI recommends working with government bodies to develop commercial driver’s licensing programs geared toward attracting young talent. While solutions like that can take time, individual companies and owner-operators shouldn’t hesitate to find less complicated answers.