After reaching a high of 1.8 million in 2008, carriers and shippers began experiencing a shortage of drivers due to the recession, in which a lot of drivers exited the business, dropping numbers as low as 1.47 million (18.4%) in 2010 and creating a tightening capacity shortage in the industry.
With the average driver being 51-years-old, trucking companies are having trouble finding new, qualified drivers to replace those who have retired. As Carolina Trucking Academy owner Charlie Gray explains, “You have drivers retiring every day. For every driver that goes out the back door, you better have a driver coming in the front door. There’s not a lot of people coming in the front door.” 1
And Gray is right. As the U.S. Department of Labor reported, last month there was a gain of only 69,000 non-farm jobs, with over half of them being in transportation/warehousing. 2 However, there is still a current shortage of more than 200,000 workers.
Although the demand for drivers in the trucking industry is high, there are barriers preventing the younger generation for applying.
One of these barriers is age. With drivers needing to be at least 21 years old to travel out of state, many people graduating high school choose to further their education in a particular field/begin a career rather than waiting several years to drive a truck.
Besides age, the cost of training, which averages $4,000 to $6,000 for a month to 6 weeks of driver school, acts as a barrier as well. Although many of these drivers are reimbursed by nationwide carriers for their schooling, they still need to put the money out initially or get a loan. 1
But as the Commercial Vehicle Training Association’s Cindy Atwood explains, it pays off with entry-level drivers making between $38-40,000 a year. “That’s a pretty good story. And that job can’t be outsourced.” 1
Still, a lack of interested and qualified drivers is not only causing capacity issues to grow, but costs as well. According to the State of Logistics annual report, “logistics costs rose 6.6 percent in 2011 to $1.28 trillion,” affecting “fuel prices, insurance premiums and driver wages.” 3
With increased costs and not enough drivers to transport the freight, carriers are reducing their fleets, and therefore, charging higher rates (between 5-15%) to account for tightened capacity and increased driver wages. Shippers are then faced with the question, do I pay more to move my product or have my freight sit, jeopardizing their reliability and relationship with the customer.
In order to attract drivers to their fleet, carriers are competing with wages, bonuses, and other incentives, with driver turnover reaching the highest it’s been (90% among large fleets) since 2008, according to the American Trucking Associations.
With strong competition among carriers in an attempt to fight capacity issues, drivers are witnessing many employment options and are given the opportunity to become more selective of who they work for.
But how do you choose the right company? Road Scholar Transport is providing you with a list of questions to ask when making your decision.
-Do they operate safe equipment?
-Do they conduct the proper maintenance procedures?
-Are they at risk of closure/being shut down?
The above three questions can help be answered by checking out the carrier’s CSA rating. By doing so, you will be granted access to a company’s vehicle maintenance record, out-of-service issues, accident record, alert statuses, and much more.
To view a carrier’s CSA score, take the following steps:
Go to the FMCSA website-www.fmcsa.dot.gov
Click on Safety & Security
Click on Company Safety Record
Click on Safety Fitness Electronic Records System
Click on Company Snapshot
Enter Carrier’s DOT, MC number, or Name
Click on SMS Results…Remember, a score of 65 or above is of alert status
-Does the company treat you with respect? Does the company offer a non-discriminatory workplace? Are they understanding of your personal needs and offer home time/flexible schedules? Is the operations team friendly, courteous, and knowledgeable?
-Are you rewarded for your work ethic? Does the company offer safety bonuses, reward you for positive customer feedback, provide you an excellent wage, and grant you a comprehensive benefits package?
By asking yourself these questions, you can help find the carrier that best suits you.
Visit http://www.roadscholar.com/employment.php to see all that Road Scholar offers and to apply for a Road Scholar Transport driving position today!
Want to help prevent your business from being affected by the capacity shortage? Here are some tips:
*Stop bidding out your business year over year. No one gets used to the “players.” Instead, establish and grow your relationship with a specific carrier(s).
*With that being said, work hand-in-hand with carriers to schedule routine shipments. If a carrier knows that a particular lane will run a specific time each week or month, they can schedule backhaul, cutting back on costs for both the carrier and shipper.
*If you do not have a load that ships on a specific time of week/month, it is best to plan your lanes ahead of time. Giving carriers a day or more notice can help them position their equipment efficiently.
*It is also beneficial to add additional carriers in cases where your primary carriers do not have the availability.
As a truck driver, what do you look for when choosing a carrier? List your comments below.