Trucking companies may find themselves short on drivers if they don’t make widespread changes in how employees are treated.
In less than 10 years, the annual demand of freight deliveries will require an estimated 2 million truck drivers, according to data compiled by the American Trucking Associations (ATA). However, the existing driver shortage is forecasting that only 1.7 million will be working in trucking. Leaving the entire industry scrambling to find 300,000 drivers to fill positions.
The gloomy forecast may serve as a wakeup call to the trucking industry and its shippers that pay scales, benefits, working conditions and workplace environment must be altered to retain current drivers and recruit new employees.
Companies ask for a lot of out of their drivers. Each day on the road means another one away from home. And a major reason that drivers may not stay, or that new ones aren’t coming aboard, is that the pay has not kept up with the times. Since deregulation in 1980, the pay drivers have received has trailed inflation. A small bump up may not be enough, and the industry must reevaluate how drivers are being compensated for their long hours.
Student Loan Assistance
The low wages being offered are a major problem for obtaining new drivers, but there are plenty of other issues companies are facing. For someone to consider a career as a commercial driver, they must first attend training courses that are far more expensive than the future job may pay off. The financial burden of student loans should be alleviated by a company’s willingness to reimburse tuition costs, which would save on driver turnover.
Conditions and Environment
Morale also goes a long way in retaining drivers. Investing in trucks and equipment that are reliable takes stress away and shows drivers they are important to the company. The same is true in the actual truck given to a driver. These are practically a driver’s second home, and they should have some say in a vehicle’s specifications rather than just being assigned one.
On average, truck drivers do not live long, healthy lives. Stress, poor diet and a lack of exercise all add up to an average lifespan of only 61 years, 15 years below the national average, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Companies should invest more in driver health and consider nutrition or weight-loss programs to keep their employees engaged.
No one wants to keep driving if there’s only a dead end ahead. While companies should focus on keeping drivers on the road, forcing them there isn’t the solution. Offering a career path that has room to grow into different fields gives a driver clearly defined goals that can be pursued.
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