For over a decade the American Trucking Association (ATA) has been a ring leader in sounding the alarm for the demand of truck drivers in the industry, due to a driver shortage. It has even been predicted that the shortage would increase to roughly 100,000 drivers by 2021. A more recent study released by the U.S Bureau of Labor (BLS) shows evidence that the trucking industry “works as well as any other blue-collar labor market and poses no constraints on entry into (or exit from) the occupation.”
The Truck Driver Shortage “Myth”
In the study it was revealed that the shortage is a matter dealing primarily with low wages and long hours than the off balanced ratio of truckers to surges in demand, within the industry. After careful review and study in trends the U.S. Department of Labor is speaking out against what the ATA has been driving into the minds trucking advocates across America.
There are many lawmakers who have jumped the gun in order to combat the decade long myth that seems to be the big news affecting the industry. There are 48 states that allow 18 year olds to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Among those is Colorado governor, Jared Polis, who recently signed a bill lowering interstate trucking age limits, just this year. According to Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) the solution of lowering the age opens the door to incidents. Safety groups have opposed the tactic since the beginning, contending that drivers 21 and younger lack the experience to operate heavy machinery, that can reach up to 60,000 Ibs. when loaded.
Instead of finding legitimate solutions, the misinterpretation of high turnover in the industry has taken the focus off the key issues of high mistreatment of workers and low wages, and placed it on the opposite. It is reported that recruiting more drivers will create competition for wages, encouraging drivers to sell themselves short in order to get the job.
With the real reason behind such high turnover revealed, it is easy for industry leaders to strategize to uncover ways to fix the issue. Turnover rates have reached up to 98%, since mid 2017. In this instance maintaining good retention is crucial to make the industry work for everyone. There are various ways to do so and lower the turnover rate for the industry, as a whole.
Time Well Compensated
Compensation and benefits have been used as incentive methods to bring in more drivers. Adding a promise of consistency will lessen the turnover rate drastically. Gordon Klemp, founder and president of the National Transportation Institute, uncovered that the increase in recent turnover was also affected by drivers uprooting to find fleets offering higher wages. This caused a lot of movement within the job market. Keeping a close eye on trends in wages will even the playing field and stabilize the amount of movement in the market.
Improved Selection Process
It is important for fleets to not overlook the step of measuring and controlling the cost of replacing a driver. Hiring the wrong person can cost thousands. That is why the selection process should be a little more detailed than checking off a CDL box and whether or not they can dress the part with a hat and flannel. Establishing and Identifying warning signs in applicant’s background and past work experiences can separate finding a diamond in the rough as far as an employee, or finding someone who only looks the part and lacks in important areas.