Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

Dept. of Motor VehiclesDOTJobs and Careersotr truckingPoliticsTruck Driving Jobstruck driving schoolsTruckingtrucking companiestrucking life

Truck Driver Shortage is Industry Created

Allen Smith of Truth About Trucking, LLC

Allen Smith of Truth About Trucking, LLC

By: Aubrey “Allen” Smith

Truck driver shortage to reach 400,000

The main stream media needs to listen to truck drivers before reporting on a nation-wide shortage of drivers.   Reports of a truck driver shortage are now swelling to as high as 400,000 for 2011 and 2012.  The cause of the shortage is being blamed on the slow economic recovery, tighter regulations on drivers and the impending CSA.  Whatever the reasons, the catastrophic fear of a truck driver shortage always seems to appear every few years or so.

Shortage of truck drivers is industry made

Not that the main news outlets are really concerned with the truth about the truck driver shortage, let’s lay it out here anyway.  As I first publicly exposed nearly five years ago, that there never has been, nor is there . . . a truck driver shortage.  This shortage is a self-made fabrication, brought on by the industry itself, largely in part to continue the turning over of more experienced, higher paid drivers for the newer, inexperienced drivers at a lower pay scale . . . cheap labor.

The truck driver shortage myth has been thrown out there for years, mainly due to the ATA and their so-called studies.  Debunking the shortage fabrication is actually very simple to do, by looking at three factors :  freight rates, driver retention and driver pay.

Cheap freight kills Owner Operators

Freight rates have stagnated for years now.  Coupled with the trucking company lease purchase scam, it has literally destroyed many of our nations’ owner operators.  A true truck driver shortage would cause freight rates to go up, yet that has never been the case.  The absence of any significant rise in freight rates would suggest the complete opposite of a truck driver shortage.  Furthermore, if a true driver shortage existed, shippers would be facing the problem of finding trucks to transport their goods and stores would be having trouble keeping their shelves filled with products . . . neither of which has ever happened.

Driver pay forces drivers to quit

In the past, the ATA has used the industry’s turn-over rate as one reason for the truck driver shortage.  The 2005, ATA commissioned study, The U.S. Truck Driver Shortage: Analysis and Forecasts, reported that driver pay is one of the main factors in the driver turn-over.  Before the recession, driver turn-over had reached a whopping 128%, higher than any other industry.  In the midst of the recession, this rate had dropped to 56% and eventually further to around 43%, with some estimates as low as 39%.  Not because things had gotten better for drivers, but because there were and is still no jobs to go to.  As freight begins to pick up and trucking companies step up their hiring process, the turn-over rate among drivers is once again beginning to rise.  If and when the economy ever stabilizes, I can assure you that the turn-over rate will eventually rise again to its previous levels, yet we will still see no recognizable difference in driver pay rates offered by carriers.  Again, there has been no significant increase in truck driver pay in decades, thus debunking any facts for a real driver shortage.

Motor carriers focus on hiring, not retention

Motor carriers focus so much of their time and effort on hiring drivers and fail to focus on the real problem of retaining truck drivers.  Many of these companies have no interest in the retention of drivers.  The more experienced the driver, the higher the pay demand.  Cheap freight calls for cheap labor, thus the need for constant recruiting of the recent CDL school graduate.  There is literally more money to be made from Government subsidies and grants than there is by transporting the cheap freight.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Training Grants (20.235) for example, is a grant provided to persons who train current and future drivers in the safe operation of CMVs.   It’s purpose is to promote the safe operation of Commercial Motor Vehicles, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 31301, through financial assistance.  This particular grant is not available to  individuals, only those who train individuals such as the CDL schools or trucking companies which have their own CDL training program.  It is offered through the agency of the D.O.T. and office of the FMCSA and authorized through SAFETEA-LU.  The amount of Grants range between $50,000 to $222,000.

If retention issues were really a cause for a driver shortage, driver wages would increase in order to retain the drivers.  All the actions being carried out by these motor carriers are a complete opposite effect to actually stop the rate of turn-over among truck drivers, and in attracting and maintaining experienced drivers.

Add to the equation the lifestyle of long haul truckers: away from home, living in a truck, poor diet, lack of sleep and rest, forced dispatch, the CFR’s, HOS rules, DOT, the general public’s attitude, the closing of rest areas, disrespect by carriers, shippers and receivers, along with low pay and cheap freight . . . no wonder truck drivers move on to other vocations.

The industry may be able to fool the media, but truck drivers know the real truth.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,



By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

View all posts by Allen Smith →

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to Truck Driver Shortage is Industry Created. - Post a Comment

  1. eclipse

    All true but you fogot one thing that too drives down wages and drivers away…The Rail!!! I for one have figured it is best to leave this company for that one reason alone and tell other drivers that they should do the same if they want to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. The rail and trucking don’t mix with the rail always eclipsing the drivers wages at every drop and in this economy ask yourself Mr. Truck Driver why are you shooting yourself in the foot? If the rail or the customer wants it delivered that badly let em pick it up and take it to the rail themselves! I know of one customer who tried the buy his own truck game and well he sold em after finding out the regulations alone made it impossible to save money and or turn a profit.
    Also guys gals you just wait their is another bubble in the economy wanna know where it is? Look in the mirror. Soon you will see all the games that the trucking companies have been playing both behind closed doors and right out in public veiw catch up with em!

  2. […] knows that during the past decades, the industry has purposely failed to retain drivers, whether they will admit it or not. The common practice of “starving out” drivers and […]

  3. […] Truck Driver Shortage is Industry Created […]

What do you have to say about this?

To the top