The Need for Trucking
The trucking industry is an integral part of the American economy. Practically every industry relies on trucking for delivery of materials to make certain products and taking the product to the desired marketplace. Look around your:
- Food Cabinet
Chances are that each product from the furniture to the clothes you’re wearing to the food you eat has seen the inside of a truck. Most of the aspects of everyday life are only possible because of the hard work of truck drivers helping companies deliver goods and helping people get the things they need. Well, trained truck drivers are important for the trucking industry to run smoothly and efficiently. It takes a special type of person for this job which is why it is seeing such a decline in applicants.
Truck Driver Shortage
The US will be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026, according to the American Trucking Associations. Fewer drivers mean that fewer goods can be moved in a timely fashion, which limits businesses from selling more and prevents consumers from enjoying what they're used to find in stores or online. Today, a lack of drivers is already delaying orders and making goods more expensive as freight rates keep increasing. The graph below is from a CNBC article that shows the increase of the truck driver shortage.
So the question is why is there such a big shortage?
When you ask a truck driver the answer is simple:
- The lifestyle is rough
- You barely see your family
- You rarely shower
- You get little respect from car drivers, police or major retailers
This career path also puts a huge strain on your body's health. With lack of:
- Quick health food on the road
- Sitting in the same chair for hours
- Limited exercise
- Not socializing with anyone
- High stress
This all can severely hurt your mental and physical health. With people in the US becoming more health conscience it doesn't seem like an appealing career path for most.
Another component of this shortage is the compensation these drivers are getting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the annual average salary for a truck driving around $42,000. With minimum wage continuously rising and more people attaining college degrees is just doesn't seem to make sense for people to get into this field of work.
With such a time-consuming job it makes it near impossible to have a social life. Many truckers talk about how trucking creates tension between you and your loved ones. Not seeing your wife, kids or friends for long periods of time seems like a life that few people would find appealing.
Lastly, these truck drivers are having their time wasted. Nearly 20% of miles are driven with empty trailers. Almost 63% of truck drivers say they wait three hours or more every time they're at a shipping dock. Companies often don't coordinate their freight with the driver's arrival and might not even have people on hand who can load or unload the freight. With such a time-sensitive job and multiple stops to make truck drivers are being slowed down greatly. This can cause tension between them and the company they work for creating even more stress for the driver and potentially docked pay.
How to Change this Trend
We now know why trucking is so necessary and why there is such a shortage. Many people are asking how can we change this?
With such a big question comes many different answers. An easy starting point would be to pay drivers more money. But with companies always looking for ways to save money this may seem like a big step backward to increase the salary of a truck driver.
What these big companies need to realize is these truck drivers are a valuable asset to the success of their business. Without them, no products would get delivered or be on the shelf for their customers, which means fewer sales. The lifestyle of a truck driver is a difficult one. For such an energy draining and life-altering career path they need to be compensated properly.
The next idea would be to help drivers save time. Make it so shipper docks have people there and ready to go when the shipment arrives. With this job taking up to three hours it takes valuable time from the driver. Not to mention during this process the truck driver isn't even getting paid. By implementing more efficient policies, shippers can save money by simply not keeping drivers waiting.
Creating incentive bonuses would also draw in more people to try trucking. Give truck drivers a reward if they:
- Have outstanding safety
- Arrive to destinations on time
- Go above and beyond the call of duty
Incentives show appreciation, showing a truck driver you value their work ethic makes them feel like an asset to the company. Which will create a better work environment for the drivers, making them work harder and get more excited about coming into work.
These aren't issues that you can put a band-aid over and hope it fixes itself. This negative trend is going to take time to fully correct and changes need to be made to the current fleet supply chain before it's too late.