Challenges for Truck Drivers
As the economy in the United States grows, more and more goods are needing to be shipped across the country. However, it's becoming more difficult for truck drivers to do their jobs.
Bob Costello, chief economist for American Trucking Associations (ATA), estimates that the trucking industry is short approximately 50,000 drivers. The American economy is going strong, but there is a lack of people to deliver the goods. The American Trucking Associations states that around 71% of all the freight tonnage that is shipped in the United States moves via trucks. 10.5 billion tons of freight are moved every year on over 3.6 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks by 3.5 million drivers. (Reports, Trends & Statistics from ATA)
More Drivers Are Needed
Every trucking company is looking for drivers as the need increases, but the available manpower isn't there. Trucking pays well, but there are downsides to the job. Some of the reasons are the same as they've always been: Many OTR drivers are only home a few days a month and the work can take its toll on your mental and physical health.
There are some new reasons that are beginning to surface, also. The average age of OTR drivers is 49 (compared with an average of 42 for the rest of the US workforce), so, many are reaching retirement age. In addition, as autonomous vehicles become more reliable, it is forecasted that there will be a loss of jobs due to that technology. People don't want to enter a career field that may be dying out. Unemployment is low, so there are other options for people to take.
As companies become less choosy as to who they hire and pay increases, the "hard" jobs aren't being filled. According to an ATA survey, the median salary for drivers has increased by around $7,000 over the last five years. If you work for a private fleet, your salary may have increased to around $13,000 during the same time.
More Regulations Equals Less Pay
Recent regulations have made the job more difficult, helping increase the shortage of drivers. Federal regulations require that drivers use four different timers to track their work time. Drivers are limited to working 70 hours in an 8-day period, the workday cannot be more than 14 consecutive hours long (even if the driver is taking a nap during this time), driving is limited to 11 hours within those 14 hours, and lastly, drivers have to take a 30-minute break every eight hours.
The new regulations that went into effect in December of 2017 required that truckers use electronic logging devices to track their work time. Many drivers had to learn a new technology, along with changing their work habits, for regulations that cut into their take-home pay. This combination of requirements became a deal-breaker for a lot of drivers.
More Downtime Equals Less Parking
An unforeseen problem caused by the increase in downtime is the lack of parking that is available. If you are delivering here in the heartland to rural addresses, you may not find a parking problem, but if you have to deliver in an urban environment, parking locations are at a premium. Drivers may have to stop their day early, where parking is available, or drive over an hour away to find parking, both options cutting into their pay and wasting fuel.
Many truckers are discovering and sharing technology to help find parking spots. Apps like Trucker Path allow drivers to report how much parking is available at over 8,000 locations around the country. Some Midwestern states are also putting parking information on their LED traffic signs. This can help drivers find open spots, but it doesn't alleviate the problem of there not being enough spots, to begin with.
Increasing parking spaces and options would give drivers more take-home pay, reduce wasted fuel, and increase productive hours. These are all winning situations for everyone. Lower transportation costs can be passed onto the consumer with lower prices and to the drivers in increased wages.
Roll-Rite Ag Products knows how important drivers are to American commerce and we do our part every day to make their job easier and more efficient. Contact us today to learn more about all that Roll-Rite Ag Products has to offer you and your equipment.