Driver Shortage Could Worsen in Next Decade

The American Trucking Association recently announced the conclusion of its study on the shortage of truck drivers. The study showed the current shortage is brief and limited primarily to truckload but trends indicate the shortage could greatly worsen in the next decade.

The ATA estimates the current shortage of drivers to be in the 20,000 to 25,000 range in the for-hire truckload market. The current shortage is based on the estimate of 750,000 trucks in the over-the-road (i.e., non-local) TL market, so the 20,000 to 25,000 shortage is significant. ATA estimates that at the current trends, the shortage could balloon to as much as 239,000 by 2022.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello stated, “ carriers and fleet executives have begun expressing concern about their ability to identify and hire qualified professional drivers and with this report, we tried to identify where the impacts were being felt the most, why the shortage is increasingly worrisome and why it has the potential to get worse.”

The ATA also listed in the report private fleets and less-than-truckload carriers may struggle somewhat in hiring new drivers but the biggest impact in the shortage of drivers would be felt in by long-haul and over-the-road carriers. Costello also said “ on average trucking will need to recruit nearly 100,000 new drivers every year to keep up with the demand for drivers. Nearly two thirds of need coming from industry growth and retirements.”

In addition to industry growth, retirements, and drivers making career changes, government regulations also may have an effect on the driver shortage. These regulations include hours of service changes, and CSA criteria.

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