On Monday, NPR reported that the truck driver shortage that has been plaguing the industry since 2009 is only getting worse. According to the American Trucking Association, 30,000 more truck drivers are needed to keep up with the increasing amount of cargo on America’s roadways. Even if goods are shipped by sea or rail, it’s almost inevitable that they will arrive at their final stop in a truck.
Several factors are contributing to the shortage. Perhaps the most positive one is a recovering economy that continues to expand and create new demands for freight. Another element is that many baby boomers, a significant portion of the driving pool, are retiring. Currently, there are not enough qualified driving school graduates to fill their spots. And the wave of impending retirements that will hit the industry in the very near future could cause the shortage to spike even more.
Finally, many are blaming the new and controversial Hours of Service (HOS) regulations put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCMSA) this July. The maximum number of hours on the road per week was cut from 82 to 70, which must also be followed by a mandatory 34 hour rest period. While HOS rules do cut back on driver fatigue, they can also add days on to a job, discouraging new drivers looking to make money fast. And if the mandatory break period falls within the middle of a trip, it can also mean more time away from the driver’s family – another deterrent.