Driver Shortage May Explode Beyond Truckload

While the current truck driver shortage is acute and limited primarily to the truckload sector, long-term trends could cause the shortage to explode in the next decade, according to an analysis from American Trucking Associations.

“Carriers and fleet executives have begun expressing concern about their ability to identify and hire qualified professional drivers,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said, “and with this report, we tried to identify where the impacts were being felt the most, why the shortage is increasingly worrisome and why it has the potential to get worse.”

In the paper, ATA said that while private fleets and less-than-truckload carriers may have some difficulty hiring drivers, the bulk of the shortage was confined to long-haul, over-the-road truckload carriers.

“ATA estimates the current shortage of drivers to be in the 20,000 to 25,000 range in the for-hire truckload market . . . on a base of roughly 750,000 trucks,” the report said, adding that if current trends continue, the shortage has the potential to grow to 239,000 over the next decade.

In addition to industry growth, retirements and drivers voluntarily changing careers, ATA believes certain government regulations—chiefly the yet-to-be-implemented hours-of-service changes and the federal government’s driver and carrier oversight program: Compliance, Safety, Accountability – will exacerbate the driver shortage, while the industry’s transition to electronic logging is unlikely to have a significant impact.

“On average, trucking will need to recruit nearly 100,000 new drivers every year to keep up with demand for drivers,” Costello said, “with nearly two-thirds of the need coming from industry growth and retirements.”

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