The Empty Road: Where Have the Truckers Gone?

Over the past years, shippers have found it increasingly more difficult to secure the trucks they need to move their freight across the country. In fact, industry analysis shows that at the beginning of 2018, only one truck was free for every 12 shipments that needed to be moved. This is a sharp and frustrating decline in availability from just over a year ago, when the ratio was one in four. With e-commerce at an all time high in a continually strengthened economy, there are many challenges faced by both shippers and carriers. One of the biggest struggles facing the transportation world right now is the lack of truck drivers.

Driving a truck is a tough job, and with the average age of drivers at 55 years old, it is an aging profession with many workers approaching retirement. As these drivers retire, the industry is not seeing an influx of new drivers, at least not at a pace sufficient enough to offset the number of workers lost to retirement. This means less trucks on the road and more headaches for shippers. Low wages, long hours, and a life away from home are all deterrents for many people that may consider this career. How can an industry thrive if its backbone – the labor force – is  diminishing at such a rapid rate? There are several changes that can be made across the industry to fix this.

Many companies are realizing that increased wages can help alleviate their capacity challenges. National carriers are increasing the rate-per-mile paid for long haul drivers, and local companies are raising their hourly pay to entice newcomers to the profession. Higher pay is always a welcome change, and executives know that a well-compensated workforce is a happier and more productive workforce. If we continue to see wages that are competitive with other industries, we may see the lack of drivers turn itself around into a surplus.

One way to start working towards this surplus may be to focus on millennials. Currently, you must be 21 to secure a class A CDL, but that doesn’t mean the training can’t start earlier. Carriers have numerous jobs in dispatch, customer service, and safety that could be appealing to a younger employee who eventually wants to get behind the wheel. This can also prepare them for the challenges and opportunities presented by life on the road. Studies have shown that millennials have deviated from previous generations when it comes to priorities in life. They value experience over material possessions and many are choosing travel over settling down and buying a home. Driving provides an opportunity to travel while earning income that could potentially be used later in life for a home.

Carriers should be focusing their efforts on recruiting adventurous millennials who want to see the country and make money while doing it. The current aging drivers are retiring soon, and it would be very difficult to groom new truck drivers from the boomer generation or Generation X. Millennials have shown that they are willing to work, but they want jobs that are satisfying and exciting. Driving a truck is the perfect fit. To learn more about our services handled by our amazing truckers, get started with Zip Xpress today!