The trucking business is lucrative. Even in the pandemic, the demand for trucking has not diminished. Goods continue to be delivered throughout the country. If you are thinking of going into the trucking business, though, you must know about the current issues in the industry. You must learn how to handle these for your business to succeed.
Trucking Drivers Shortage
As of October 2021, the U.S. trucking industry was short of 80,000 drivers, as reported by the American Trucking Associations (ATA). That was a record-high, but it is expected to worsen by 2030 to a shortage of 160,000.
The trucking driver shortage has been an industry-wide problem for several years now. There are several reasons for this. One is the high turnover rate of truck drivers. According to data from Zippia, 34 percent stay on the job for less than a year, and 30 percent stay for just one to two years. Meanwhile, 12 percent stay for three to four years, 13 percent stay for five to seven years, four percent stay for eight to 10 years, and only six percent stay for 11 years or more.
Truck drivers are also an aging workforce. Eight percent of current truck drivers in the U.S. are 20 to 30 years old, 17 percent are 30 to 40 years old, and a whopping 75% are older than 40. Many of them are nearing retirement age since the average age of a truck driver is now 48.
Men make up 91 percent of truck drivers. The industry is missing out on a large pool of potential female truck drivers. That is because, as of 2021, women were being paid only 86% of what men were being paid doing the same job.
Why People Don’t Want to Drive Trucks
Not enough people are interested in becoming truck drivers. Some potential drivers are turned off by the long hours and time away from home, which can be days or even weeks. Schedules are also unpredictable. Others are discouraged by the low pay and poor working conditions.
Many are at work for about 60 to 70 hours every week, but a large portion of that time covers the loading or unloading of goods, for which they are not paid. They are only paid for the time that they are driving. Many are also paid by the mile, which can fluctuate depending on how busy trucking companies are.
According to the BLS, the median salary yearly for truck drivers in 2021 was $42,480. That was much lower than the $58,260 median salary for all occupations in the U.S. last year.
Many truck drivers are not paid overtime and do not receive health care benefits. On top of that, some have to pay for the fuel they use.
Truck driver rights attorneys note that in California and Washington, truck drivers are entitled to be paid not just for the time they are driving but also for non-driving time on the job. This includes time spent on pre-trip and post-trip inspections, meetings, meal times, and the required 10-minute rest period after every four hours of work. The lawyers urge truck drivers to get legal representation if companies violate the law.
Regulations on Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the regulations on service hours for property-carrying truck drivers. These cover all states.
After every eight hours of uninterrupted driving, a driver is required to take a continuous 30-minute non-driving break. This break can be on-duty or off-duty, or a combination of both. Being on a sleeping berth also counts.
After a driver has been off duty for 10 consecutive hours, he is allowed to drive for not more than 11 hours.
If within seven to eight consecutive days, a driver has been on duty for a maximum of 70 hours, a rest period of 34 hours or more off duty is required. A driver may not start another seven to eight consecutive days of work without completing this rest period.
What You Can Do to Succeed in the Trucking Business
Despite the challenges, there are opportunities for those who want to get into the trucking business. The first thing you need to do is understand the current issues in the industry. Then, you must find ways to address them.
Some trucking companies are now training their own drivers. This can help with the driver shortage and also ensure that drivers are properly trained to meet the company’s standards.
Other trucking companies are turning to technology to solve some of the industry’s problems. For example, there are now apps that help with route planning and dispatch. There are also GPS tracking devices that help trucking companies keep track of their fleet.
Trucking companies are also offering better pay and benefits to attract and retain drivers. Some are even offering sign-on bonuses.
If you’re thinking of getting into the trucking business, do your research and find out what you need to do to succeed. With the right knowledge and approach, you can overcome the challenges and make a good living in this industry.