In the past couple of decades, truck driving has seen a shortage of available truck drivers. This shortage doesn’t just affect individuals or specific companies, though–68% of freight in the American economy is moved on US highways. Without truck drivers, our favorite products will be missing from the shelves of stores. So what are the reasons for so few truck drivers? Read below to find out the reasons behind the truck driver shortage.
One of the main reasons for the truck driver shortage is the slow decrease of its main demographic; the majority of truck drivers are male drivers aged 45 years or older. Within the next decade or so, more and more drivers will reach retirement age, which–you guessed it!–means fewer and fewer truck drivers. Stereotypes also play into why there is a truck driver shortage, as it’s seen as an industry for men, and women then tend not to join.
One of the main reasons older demographics make up such a large percentage of truck drivers is that the government requires these drivers to be at least 21 years of age before they can earn their Commercial Drivers License (CDL). Most students, then, graduate high school and are drawn by other employment opportunities before the age they would even be eligible to receive their CDL.
Historically, truck drivers have had low wages and aren’t adequately compensated for their work. Even worse, pay has been decreasing over time. Since the 1970s, truck driver wages have lessened as much as 50%–talk about a low blow. As wages fell over the past few decades, new and not-so-beneficial programs have been introduced, too.
Credit scores were introduced in 1989, and both revolutionized the economy and pulverized its consumers. While credit gives these consumers a longer period of time to buy something–buying on credit instead of purchasing immediately–it also harms those who are unable to pay or who would rather not use credit at all. Credit has become an unnecessary necessity that adds more obstacles to those with loans or disinterest.
Low pay, bad credit, and large loans make it increasingly difficult for truck drivers to choose this profession in favor of higher-paying jobs. Truck driving companies must increase the pay to match the current inflation rate to attract more truck drivers if there is to be any hope for the field. After all, who doesn’t love a road trip where you get paid?
Another reason for truck driver shortage is the working conditions truck drivers face. As truck drivers haul freight across the country, these products can sometimes be dangerous–and even when they aren’t, transporting that much freight comes with its own dangers. Drivers who transport hazardous materials are required to take a course and obtain a license, but that doesn’t completely take away the possibility of accidents. Even with the many safety precautions and rules set in place, accidents can happen, and many no longer wish to risk their life and livelihood with the chance of danger. Although driving may be soothing and the risk tolerable for some, other outside working conditions continue to affect truck driving working conditions too.
Truck driving, just like any other type of driving, comes with its own risks. Driving in rain, snow, hail, and other dangerous weather storms isn’t safe for anyone, even if you’re in a larger vehicle that offers more protection. Fewer drivers are willing to risk the work conditions truck driving offers, and as the climate changes and becomes increasingly unpredictable and more perilous, we may see fewer and fewer available truck drivers braving the storms.
Demands of the Job
Truck drivers sit for hours on end, needing constant concentration on the road and their surroundings, all while sitting in one position for great lengths of time. Consequently, truck driving can be tiresome both mentally and physically, even as your driving record grows with the miles you put behind you. Concentrating for a long time and sitting in the same position for hours on end can put a strain on your mind and your back–even if you’re enjoying those hours by passing the time listening to audiobooks!
Truck driving is mentally and physically demanding, and does require training to earn your CDL and become a truck driver. The training itself is actually fairly short–the Truck Driver’s Institute program only takes three weeks to complete. Yet there are additional licenses and courses truck drivers must take if they want to expand the type of freight they transport, such as the hazardous materials certification.
Truck driving is a demanding field, even with all of the rewards; but truck driving companies can combat these demands by decreasing time on the road and providing health insurance, so truck drivers will rest assured they’ll be taken care of no matter what.
Like difficult work conditions and the demands of truck driving, the culture itself may be daunting for those new to the profession. There are long periods of time that truck drivers are away from family, time spent alone and with intense concentration, and the field is seen as a man’s job–both untrue and overlooking the women truck drivers already out there. Although men make up the majority of the truck driving demographic, women truck drivers are an important part of the community too.
Some changes that can better the culture of truck driving is to decrease the amount of time on the road, as previously mentioned, so truck drivers can have more time with their families, and to put more effort into recruiting women as truck drivers. Despite making up 47% of the US workforce, women only make up 6% of the demographic in truck driving.
Join the Industry with TDI
Do you want to help better the truck-driving community? Do you want to help fix the reasons for truck driver shortages? Do you want to become a truck driver and help lessen the shortage of truck drivers? Contact us today to get started on your Commercial Driver’s license journey!
Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!