New Estimates Put the Driver Shortage at 240,000 Drivers!

And, if what I’m reading is right, IT’S ALL OUR FAULT!

But before we get to why, let’s spell out that number. Two Hundred And Forty Thousand! That’s almost double what the estimates were as recently as a year and a half ago! That’s one scary number! How are we going to increase the number of drivers by 10% in the next decade when one third of drivers are going to reach retirement age and the average graduate age from driver training schools is 54! (Which means that the percentage of drivers set to reach retirement age in the next decade is increasing every year and it won’t be long before two thirds of drivers will be less than a decade away from retirement age!)

Needless to say if the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is right and the shortage is 240K, we have a serious situation on our hands. And the severity is only increased if the Owner Operators and Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is right and that, despite the fact that some 40,000 new commercial driver licenses are granted by DOT annually, turnover is 100+ percent per year due to poor working conditions.

And it sounds like working conditions are getting worse each year. From my research, this is what the reality of the situation is:

  • truck drivers make an average wage of only 38K per year;
    4K less than the per capita personal income and 13K less than the median household income in the US as of January, 2012
  • truck drivers have to drive up to fourteen hours a day
    and receive roughly 10 hours off before their next shift despite the fact that legislation limits the amount of driving a trucker is supposed to do
  • truck drivers commonly have to work 6 day weeks
  • truck drivers have a dangerous job
    as 12% of all work-related deaths in the US are from truck drivers in auto accidents
  • truck drivers are lucky to earn minimum wage
    when you add up all of the time they have to be on the job driving and waiting (in traffic, at warehouses, etc.)
  • truck drivers don’t always get to eat well
    as evidenced by the fact that only 14% of truck drivers in the US are not overweight or obese
  • truck drivers don’t get good medical care
    as they can’t keep regular appointments with regular doctors and can’t always go to the doctor when they should
  • truck drivers often have to sleep in their cabs in unsafe conditions
    as States are continually shutting down designated trucker rest stops along interstates to cut costs and long haul truckers often have to race for a safe position at truck stops, with over 90% of open spots filled on a nightly basis

In other words, working conditions are bad, getting worse, and since we’re not doing anything about it, it’s all our fault. You take the time to make sure there’s no child labour in your supply chain. You take the time to make sure that your suppliers are paying minimum wage. But do you take the time to make sure that your shippers are treating their drivers well and making sure they stay healthy and safe?

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