Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Ongoing Problem of Truck Driver Shortage in the United States

By Zoey
Over a period of at least three decades, the second biggest sector in the country – transport – has not been able to determine the reasons why so many truck drivers, even seasoned ones, are calling it quits. The numbers of young people choosing other vocations over trucking are even more grim. As a result, the United States is currently headed for a truck driver deficit of between 200,000 to 400,000 truckers.

This may surprise some people as some 40,000 new CDL licenses are given out each year.  Out of these, an estimated 50% are only license holders, not actually using their permit to drive a truck commercially. Just what are the factors that have driven this problem to its present proportions? The goal of this article is to examine just that and more.

The Issue of Wages

Probably the biggest factor driving people out of the profession is the low wages, which accompany most commercial contracts. Low pay for truck drivers has actually been a problem for years ever since deregulation of the transport sector occurred. Over time, it's become the top reason for all types of motorists deciding to leave the profession. The typical annual pay of $38,000 is just not viewed as being big enough to counter all the demands of the rather stressful profession and it has certainly not kept up with the pay wages found in other comparable industries.

Too many flashy advertisements are used to reel in new, unseasoned drivers who never receive their expected big, sign-on bonuses. The companies hiring often know that most drivers will quit after a short time on the job anyway. Working 70 hours a week and not being paid for other duties such as detention time, cause many young and old drivers alike to move onto greener pastures. Unfortunately, truck driving jobs in the US are still considered “unskilled” labor, making it difficult to positively change the issue of wages for the better.

Too Many Regulations

The overuse of regulations continues to make the life of the professional trucker challenging. For instance, millions of truckers are expected to work under identical hours of service, while governing when they are able to drive or where they are able to sleep. One single rule can’t possibly please everyone. And so, many seasoned drivers leave the profession, which is a huge loss to the entire industry since seasoned drivers have acquired a great level of security and professionalism in their driving.

Regulatory bodies have now crept into a wide range of issues ranging from anti-idling laws, forced dispatch and lack of home time causing major consternation and panic into the entire industry. These tough and restrictive security regulations together with the low pay experienced by many truck drivers, are all reasons behind the truck driver shortage in the US. 

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