David Edmondson, CDS
Sr. Safety Consultant
In news reports it was recently stated that 2021 closed with a record-high driver shortage of 80,000. And with the average age of current CDL drivers approaching 50, the trucking industry will need more than 1.1 million new drivers in the next 10 years.
What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptive impact on the labor market has led truck drivers to think about just how much they should be paid and how well they should be treated to stay in trucking.
Technologies may be developed to have self-driving trucks, but as of right now, drivers move the trailers. Meaning the carriers who can retain their drivers are ahead.
Think of the time it takes to recruit a driver, evaluate their risk, train and orientate them, especially if your trucking job requires other skills, such as delivering, unloading and setting up your products. And then there is presenting the driver with the expectations and the culture of your company and proving through your operations that you walk the talk.
There’s no one way to improve driver retention. It can require a combination of competitive home time and pay, safety and company culture, and team building with individual and shared company goals and rewards.
Just as we are experiencing now with gas prices, the natural market reaction when there is a shortage of a good or service is to increase the price. In this scenario, that price would be truck driver wages. Most carriers have been offering pay increases coupled with a comprehensive benefits package and 401(k)/tuition reimbursement options.
Decrease Time on the Road/Provide Competitive Home Time
Increasing time at home and decreasing time on the road can take so many of those “lifestyle” issues out of the equation.
Target Minorities, Women and Veterans
To effectively address the driver shortage, carriers should look for ways to entice more women, minorities and veterans. Minorities and women are an overwhelmingly under-represented group within the trucking industry. Veterans are another source as many are looking to transition into fulfilling careers and are generally dependable drivers. Contact your local Veterans Administration for recruiting resources.
Lower Age Required to Obtain a CDL
From a governmental legislative level, lowering the age for CMV and CDL drivers to encompass 18 to 20 is being looked at. For folks who do not plan or desire to attend college, trucking could be losing some great drivers to other industries such as plumbing or other apprenticeships.