Professional truck drivers delivering goods are valued employees that are appreciated for their hard work serving a majority of businesses across all types of industries. Without their talent that fuels success both on and off the road, supply chain operations can come to a screeching halt.
In fact, more than 78,000 drivers are needed today to complete routes with multiple volumes of freight. And, as we predict the need for over 150,000 drivers on the road by 2030, the demand for individuals on this career path isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The state of the trucking industry has been met with the challenge of a growing driver shortage, which has created economical concerns. In this article, we’ll look at the current state of the driver scarcity, why it exists, and what your business can do to alleviate a shortage in your organization.
Why is There a Driver Shortage?
The world was beginning to see an increasing driver shortage in the late 2010s with issues stemming from a lack of interest in schooling and an age restriction that required all drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) (even if they legally got their license when younger) to be 21 and older. However, even with this age limitation, a majority of drivers are older than 45 and are more prone to burnout from long hours on the road and severe demands. Age aside, three of the biggest issues that affect drivers and their decision to continue working include the following:
- Feeling underpaid
- A general lack of appreciation for their tireless work
- The choice of routes to haul goods
When combined with many drivers struggling to have a flexible work-life balance and are often away for long periods of time, these conditions have made it understandably more difficult for these individuals to find their work rewarding.
The significant impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was also a major factor in the driver shortage. At the start of 2020, lockdowns negatively impacted the economy and created an even larger shortage due to a complete shutdown of truck driving classes. As of now, there is no longer a major public health concern which means we’re heading in a positive direction with more opportunities for truck drivers. But, companies are still facing difficulty navigating the driver shortage and must react quickly and effectively to keep their cargo moving. Fortunately, there are two solutions that can help businesses: making internal changes within their organization or outsourcing through dedicated transportation.
What Can Companies Do About the Driver Shortage?
If your company is struggling to retain a pool of qualified drivers, it’s very important that you listen to and show sincere appreciation to your current staff out on the road. Drivers are holding your daily logistic operations together and deserve consistent, sincere praise. If they feel undervalued (and especially underpaid), chances are they’ll leave your business for another opportunity or quit altogether.
You should often speak to drivers to see what is working and what issues can be resolved to make their jobs easier. We recommend holding a driver council with regular meetings that outline a clear career path for growth. If your drivers are unsure what their future holds in their professional and personal lives, this is another justified reason for turnover. It’s also crucial that you ensure accountability is maintained across your entire business, from the top to the bottom. The last thing your drivers need is ambiguity or disrespect from anybody.
How Dedicated Transportation Helps Businesses
Dedicated transportation picks up where the driver shortage leaves businesses hanging. If you’ve found yourself in a position where it’s next to impossible to keep up with logistical demands, you can find help from a third-party logistics (3PL) business that has its own staff of drivers who can be hired to represent your brand. Here’s how it works:
- You request dedicated transportation solutions for your specific supply chain needs
- The 3PL utilizes their own trained drivers, reliable trucks, and real-time visibility tools to haul your goods across multiple routes
- The 3PL’s drivers wear uniforms and drive trucks with your brand’s image to represent your company as “your employees”
- Drivers and trucks are fully insured so you don’t have to worry about maintenance issues
- Your entire fleet management is handled by professionals so you can focus your energy elsewhere
In most cases where a driver shortage is present, dedicated transportation is one of the best ways to save money, from overhead expenses to driver salaries. Of course, dedicated transportation should be utilized as a last resort to maintain integrity with your staff and avoid costly lay-offs.