Home » Driver Shortage Continues to Hinder Transportation Sector
October 10, 2022
Pillar Insurance Associates

Driver Shortage Continues to Hinder Transportation Sector

The US transportation industry was short 80,000 drivers in 2021, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), with the driver shortage continuing to apply the brakes to the sector’s prospects.

Some estimates even say that the driver shortage could double by 2030, with no signs yet of the pressure easing on the U.S.’s trucking firms.

Long-haul drivers are in particularly short supply, with approximately 300,000 truck drivers leaving the profession every year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The situation was exacerbated when the Covid-19 pandemic forced training and apprenticeship programs to either close down or limit their operations, meaning that fewer new drivers were able to start their careers in the sector.

Driver Shortage Still Hinders Transportation Sector; Recruiting Younger Drivers Might Not Be the Answer


Young Truck Drivers, Higher Rates

The problem reached national U.S. political attention when an initiative to recruit more female and younger drivers was included as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill President Joe Biden signed into law in November 2021.

The new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program3 will allow people who are at least 18 years of age and have a state-issued commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a clean record to apply to be an interstate trucker under the direct supervision of an experienced driver.

But Jeffrey Marks, RPS Transportation Program manager, noted that it could be a problem for some carriers and possibly cause insurance rates to rise due to younger, inexperienced drivers.

“They just don’t have the required experience of driving these types of vehicles that most carriers in the industry expect,” he said. “Having said that, many carriers require drivers to have had their CDL for two years, and it’s getting increasingly hard to find drivers that meet those requirements.”

In addition, many younger drivers simply are

n’t attracted to the trucking industry. Mike Mitchell, area president for RPS in Charlotte, said an increasing number of young people are going to college and then looking for careers that will make use of their education.

“They’re looking to use that degree, and a lot of times that’s left us with fewer truck drivers,” he added.


Trucker Shortage Is a Persistent Problem

But Marks said the long-haul trucking industry might continue to struggle with a driver shortage until it finds a way to make truck driving more appealing than other industries that recruit workers out of high school.

“To make the job more appealing you need to consider higher pay, better benefits and potential work-life balance,” he said. “There are challenges in recruiting young people, particularly when it comes to long-haul trucking when you have to be away from home and family for such a long period of time.”

Until this issue is solved, however, trucking firms may need to get more creative in the way they look to grow their businesses, with larger firms likely to have more scope for taking advantage of the limited opportunities available amidst the ongoing driver shortage.

“We are increasingly seeing firms purchase another smaller operator because they have a strong pool of seasoned quality drivers,” said Andrey Miterin, area vice president, Northeast/ Mid-Atlantic region for RPS. “They are also using this to expand into new regions, or even different segments such as intermodal shipping.”

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in this way in some of the southeastern states such as Georgia or South Carolina.”

Miterin added that the acquired operator is the

n incorporated into the larger fleet, with the acquiring firm benefitting from the economies of scale that come with a larger operation.

“They also tend to offer a m

uch more competitive compensation package than the smaller operators too,” noted Miterin. “This helps to retain existing drivers as they move over to the new firm.”

Categories: Blog

Tags: truck insurance, trucking

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