Driver Shortage Has Officially Become Trucking Industry’s Biggest Concern

Driver Shortage Has Officially Become Trucking Industry’s Biggest Concern

A recent survey conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) revealed that driver shortage has officially become the biggest concern for America’s trucking industry. This is the first time since 2006 that this issue has emerged as the biggest affair, pushing the ELD mandate to the second position.

The results of the survey were released earlier this month on the second day of the American Trucking Association’s Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.

With the improvements in the U.S. economy and the e-commerce boom, the demand for freight has gone high. As a result, commercial drivers are more in demand than ever before.

“There is a real severe driver situation at this point and it’s only going to get worse, which probably means that driver wages are going to ratchet up pretty heavy for the next two to three years,” Max Fuller, Executive Chairman at US Xpress analyzed.

Further discussing the trend, Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist said, “In addition to the sheer lack of drivers, fleets are also suffering from a lack of qualified drivers, which amplifies the effects of the shortage on carriers.”

Another report by the American Trucking Association (ATA) — that followed the ATRI’s report — stated that the shortage could reach to 50,000 by the end of this year. Also, if the driver shortfall continues, the number will grow to more than 174,000 by 2026.

Following the publication, there were several remedies proposed by ATA and ATRI representatives, and other industry professionals to deal with this growing driver shortage problem.

Chris Spear, the ATA’s Chief Executive said, “Identifying the right mix of partners and strategies to effectively address the driver shortage is one of our top goals for the industry.”

The organizations are of the view that partnering with state and federal authorities, such as the Department of Labor, will help overcome the driver shortfall.

They proposed that the federal government initiate a commercial driver’s license program to attract young and energetic drivers to participate. Also, it should form a body to run the national driver’s recruitment program. Some industrialists suggested increasing the pay and opportunities for drivers so that they want to retain their driving careers instead of shifting to find greener pastures.

The survey — which we are discussing here — took place in U.S., Mexico, and Canada. There were 1,557 responses in total.

Respondents were motor carriers who made up to 50.4 percent of the total responses. 35.7 percent answers were received from commercial truck drivers, while the industry insiders amounted to 13.9 percent.

Tips For Improving Driver Retention

There are several factors that contribute to drivers leaving their jobs. For example, despicable working conditions, a lack of communication with dispatchers, low wages, slow or no career growth, are some of the many reasons where there is a driver shortage problem.

These factors can be easily overcome by identifying what your drivers need. It is also encouraged to talk to your drivers and learn about their problems, wants, and requirements directly from them. That will allow you to learn specific issues.

In the meanwhile, you can read the following proven driver retention tips that address some of the most common driver-related problems.

1. Improve Working Conditions

We all want to work in a healthy working environment where we are respected, treated fairly, and considered valuable. Commercial drivers demand just the same.

As a motor carrier, you must make your drivers comfortable. Simplify their work as much as possible by using the right tools and techniques. Automated repetitive tasks that only increase burdens for drivers.

A lot of it can be achieved by installing electronic logging devices.

ELDs automate several tasks that drivers unwillingly waste a lot of time on. For instance, according to an estimate, commercial drivers waste, on average, 20 hours every year filling up paper logs.

As ELDs eliminate the need for paper logs and record all the information electronically, drivers can use those 20 hours every year driving, instead of maintaining paper logs. Those extra 20 hours would result in higher driver income.

Furthermore, ELDs also help drivers by notifying them about upcoming Hours-of-Service violations. It leads to fewer violations and penalties — which means a more stress-free driving experience.

2. Create Feedback Loops

You can’t solve your drivers’ problems if you don’t know what those problems exactly are.

It is, therefore, important to create a feedback system that enables fleet managers to regularly get in touch with their drivers and ask if there’s anything bothering them. You can also run anonymous suggestion boxes and company-wide surveys to find problems to solve.

It is also an ongoing process, so it’s ideal to have a robust feedback system in place.

3. Incentivize Good Performances

Introduce incentives and cash bonuses for commercial drivers. Set targets for drivers to achieve and reward drivers with exceptional performances.

Incentivizing good driver performances not only improve your fleet’s safety but it also minimizes operational expenses, improves driver retention rate, and increases motivation for all the other drivers as well.

4. Share Savings

Increasing driver salaries to retain them might not be profitable for many fleets. If that’s the case, why not take a slightly different approach?

Instead of increasing their pay, share some of your savings with them.

For instance, when drivers use electronic logging devices and follow the best driving practices, they consume less fuel. Moreover, electronic logging devices also help fleet managers by reducing fuel wastage with idle-time tracking and by monitoring drivers with bad driving behaviors.

You can identify the top-performing drivers who are saving valuable money for the fleet and reward them with, say, a 5% or 10% cashback.

The Top 10 Pressing Issues of the Year

The report by ATRI revealed the top 10 biggest concerns in the trucking industry. Apart from the driver shortage problem (which we have already discussed), following are the rest of the nine issues.

  • ELD mandate
  • Hours of Service regulations
  • Scarcity of truck parking spots
  • Driver retention
  • CSA scores
  • Costs associated with regulations
  • Driver distraction
  • Poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion
  • Driver health and wellness

What’s Next?

The ELD mandate dropped down to the second position because many fleets have successfully adopted electronic logging devices.

However, if you haven’t installed ELDs yet, the ELD mandate should still be the biggest issue for you — one that you need to resolve immediately. The ELD mandate compliance deadline is less than 40 days from now.

Delaying your actions further isn’t an option anymore. 

Request a free demo of the KeepTruckin ELD today. The KeepTruckin ELD is FMCSA-registered, affordable, and easy-to-use.

If you have any questions, call 844-325-9230 or email at



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