Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

America's truck driver shortage
Innovation Trail ^ | August 6, 2013 | Kate O'Connell

Posted on 08/18/2013 7:21:43 PM PDT by Fiji Hill

America's Truck Driver Shortage

By Kate O'Connell

The Innovation Trail's Kate O'Connell talks to truckers, industry reps, and analysts about America's trucker shortage.

America’s trucking industry’s been experiencing a chronic shortage of drivers for at least 20 years. Conservative estimates put the number of vacancies upward of 20,000, and some say it goes into the hundreds of thousands.

But, there are mixed views on the causes and solutions for this challenge to the industry.

Kevin Dugan has a college degree in heating and air conditioning, but after graduating he had a similar experience to many young grads. Employers were reluctant to hire him because of a lack of experience.

And that’s why Dugan’s out early each Saturday morning, taking a truck for a spin.

“Nobody wanted to give me a job, nobody really wanted to give me an interview. And that carried on for just so long, and I said ok, I need to find something else if I’m ever going anywhere with this,” he says.

“I heard there was an employment vacuum with transportation so I decided to go ahead and investigate that. So one thing led to another and here I am.”

Dugan’s lead turned out to be on the money. He had several job offers before he’d even completed his training, as did most of his classmates.

He’s one of a handful of new truck drivers entering the industry via the Professional Driver Institute (PDI) in western New York.

Paul Doyle, president of PDI, says his school trains up to 35 students per month. And, they could triple class sizes and still not meet the demand, he says

“People don’t realize how big of an industry this is. It’s the second largest employer next to healthcare. There’s something like 350 thousand motor carriers in the US. It’s usually a well-kept secret as far as the opportunities that are out there.”

As far as Doyle’s concerned, the shortage is a hangover from when trucking licenses became federally regulated in the early ‘90s.

He says that change eliminated around 40 percent of drivers from the industry because it revealed an astonishing lack of enforcement of driving violations and restrictions.

“The commercial license used to be regulated for each state. And one of the problems that developed was, drivers could what they call “spread out moving violations” over states. They could actually have 15-20 DWIs, they could have 50-60 moving violations. But they would spread them out over different states, so they would still be legal in any particular state.”

Doyle says the industry never really recovered, and they’re now facing a crisis as baby boomers begin to retire. He says companies also struggle with outdated perceptions of the industry.

“That is a very real issue. I think the trucking industry itself is trying to package itself to try to appeal to a more diversified market, including women, minorities…maybe people that typically, in the past, would not have considered it. They try to make it more and more driver-friendly, more technologically advanced, more user-friendly.”

A different take

Michale Belzer, associate professor of industrial relations and economics at Wayne State University, sees the problem differently.

For him, the driver shortage dates back to the decade before the license system went federal.

“I have been hearing about this driver shortage since the late 1980s, and there have been lots of complaints about that. You never heard about that before deregulation 30-35 years ago, there was no problem. But when the job became so highly competitive and highly pressured, and the compensation went down by about a third or more, more like even a half, then it became a much less attractive job.”

And Belzer says it’s not outdated views of the industry that’s causing the shortage.

“The problem is that the job is too demanding and the pay is not good enough, and even if you train people for this job, they don’t stay once they realize how difficult the job is.”

It depends on who you talk to as to what view you get on this issue. If you talk to people in the trucking industry you’ll hear, unsurprisingly, that over-regulation is to blame.

David Heller’s an industry representative and Rick Etinger, a recruiter for trucking company Warner Enterprises. Both say tighter regulation of working hours is alienating drivers.

“Drivers are basically looking at regulations and saying there’s just too much and they’re leaving the industry. Effectively what it’s creating is a driver shortage,” says Heller.

“You’re allowed to drive an 11 hour day, but after you’ve been on the clock for eight hours you must take a half hour break mandatory by federal law. So what that’s doing is cutting into the driver’s hours of being able to work and or drive,” says Etinger.

“It could be crippling for the industry, it could be crippling for the consumer because the less drivers, the less stuff’s going to get delivered. And who really takes the bulk of all that is consumers. You would end up having higher fuel costs because fuel trucks have to make deliveries, there’s a lot of ramifications I believe if this shortage is not taken care of.”

The dollars and cents of it all

There’s no easy answer, but a lot of it comes down to money. Back at Wayne State, Michael Belzer says there’s not enough going into drivers pockets to attract people.

“They could work two jobs in fast food full time and make better money and be home every day than what they’re doing now. So the job, the current status of the trucking industry job, does not fit with the rest of the U.S. labor market.”

The industry is also arguing for more federal dollars to go towards driver education, rather than enforcing regulations.

For wanna-be drivers, the dollars and cents of it all are a factor too.

Despite the number of local offers Kevin Dugan got, he decided to shop around. And, he ended up offering to relocate for a company that had a higher pay grade and a more attractive career track.

“Someone from Schneider pulled up one day while I was out there and I decided to go ahead and ask her how it was because I was a little dissatisfied with the prospects I had right there. She had just about all the answers I was looking for; decent pay, expansion into tank truck work, nice-ish trucks, they care about safety, they care about their drivers.”

Dugan admits the lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but he’s looking forward to hitting the open road.

He’s happy with the long hauls, traveling for about a week before returning for the weekends.

“It means I never have a lack of things to do when I get back on the weekends, and hey, you’re literally getting to see the entire north east, can you really put a price on that?”



TOPICS: Society
KEYWORDS: careers; economy; jobs; labor; transportation; truckdriving; trucks

1 posted on 08/18/2013 7:21:44 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill; HoosierDammit; TYVets; red irish; fastrock; NorthernCrunchyCon; UMCRevMom@aol.com; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

2 posted on 08/18/2013 7:22:52 PM PDT by narses
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

How much does it pay?


3 posted on 08/18/2013 7:25:10 PM PDT by babble-on
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

My son tried it. All the big companies wanted were drivers who leased their truck. If you were not willing to lease, you were paid next to nothing, regulated out the wazoo, treated like dog dung and given loads where your 11 hour day included 4 stops...when you were being paid by the mile.

He gave it up and is now bringing in more money getting $9/hour as a security guard. And they wonder why they cannot fill the ‘demand’?


4 posted on 08/18/2013 7:26:52 PM PDT by Mr Rogers (Liberals are like locusts...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: babble-on

You want to be paid?


5 posted on 08/18/2013 7:27:39 PM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Mr Rogers

The big guys have driven all the independents out.


6 posted on 08/18/2013 7:30:17 PM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

Oil field trucking companies are paying $3,000 signing bonuses right now.


7 posted on 08/18/2013 7:37:19 PM PDT by razorback-bert (I'm in shape. Round is a shape isn't it?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr Rogers

Pretty much the same story I hear every day.


8 posted on 08/18/2013 7:37:25 PM PDT by Darksheare (Try my coffee, first one's free.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: razorback-bert

Great!

Then afterwards?


9 posted on 08/18/2013 7:39:59 PM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

In Obama’s world, there isn’t/won’t be adequate salary for truck drivers or anyone else.


10 posted on 08/18/2013 7:46:17 PM PDT by citizen (We get the government we choose. America either voted for Obama or handed it to him by not voting.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr Rogers
This article doesn't cover a lot of the issues facing someone who drives a truck for a living, but they do a good job of hitting on the big ones.

Getting paid by the mile is one of the most problematic aspects of a driving career. Under this system, the truck driver ends up bearing the financial burden as well as the heavy personal toll of all the inefficiencies in the motor freight transportation system -- from congestion to Federal hours-of-service rules to inefficient terminal operations where the customer doesn't load or unload the truck very efficiently (and the driver is "on the clock" but isn't getting paid because the truck isn't moving).

I hate to say this, but it's likely that the only way to fix the system is to have the Teamsters make some serious inroads into the trucking industry.

11 posted on 08/18/2013 7:52:01 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Alberta's Child

Teamster’s? Gotta be kidding? Right? They are part of the problem.


14 posted on 08/18/2013 8:01:51 PM PDT by bigfootbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: bigfootbob
Maybe in some cases, but I think that entire industry is practically begging to be unionized.

Who else but the Teamsters has been standing up to prevent the implementation of that provision of NAFTA that will allow Mexican trucking firms to do business in the U.S.?

15 posted on 08/18/2013 8:15:11 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Alberta's Child

They’ll “fix” the problem by having Mexican drivers work US roads under NAFTA.

Little different than how they “fixed” the engineering shortage by importing H-1Bs from India and China.


16 posted on 08/18/2013 8:16:55 PM PDT by null and void (Frequent terrorist attacks OR endless government snooping and oppression? We can have both!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

Trucker: Very long hours, very low pay. For the hours a person could get two jobs and do just as well.


17 posted on 08/18/2013 8:17:23 PM PDT by CodeToad (Liberals are bloodsucking ticks. We need to light the matchstick to burn them off. -786 +969)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jonty30

5 dollar diesel and all the regulatory BS hasn’t helped, either


18 posted on 08/18/2013 8:29:43 PM PDT by bigbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: bigbob

Trucking has not been the same since deregulation.


19 posted on 08/18/2013 8:34:23 PM PDT by DonaldC (A nation cannot stand in the absence of religious principle.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

Raise wages and you won’t have a shortage of truckers. This is basic market economics for conservatives who actually care about such a thing. Or is this another job ‘Americans won’t do’ ?


20 posted on 08/18/2013 8:43:06 PM PDT by sunrise_sunset
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bigbob
5 dollar diesel and all the regulatory BS hasn’t helped, either

Sounds as though mandating half-hour rest stops is another "doo-gooder" measure that has made things worse for those it intended to help.

21 posted on 08/18/2013 8:43:45 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: CodeToad

That’s what I figure. I’ve been hearing about driver “shortages” for 20 years or more. If there’s a chronic shortage of people to do a job it is probably because there are elements of the job that suck and drive off (pardon the pun) most people.


22 posted on 08/18/2013 8:47:52 PM PDT by ThunderSleeps (Stop obarma now! Stop the hussein - insane agenda!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill
Kevin Dugan has a college degree in heating and air conditioning.

It might be a technical degree associated with a trade, but the typical college degree associated with HVAC is Mechanical Engineering and HVAC is only a very limited portion of that curriculum in ABET accredited programs.

23 posted on 08/18/2013 8:52:48 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

First of all, what college gives a degree in heating and a/c?

Second, if you can’t cook the books, you can’t make enough money to make it worthwhile.

Third, he thinks riding around the NE is fun?

And fourth, what does a Warner driver have in common with a weigh station attendent? They both sit behind glass and watch big trucks go by. Seriously, Warner is the slowest truck on the road.


24 posted on 08/18/2013 8:53:08 PM PDT by VerySadAmerican (When you vote for evil because you can't see evil, you ARE evil.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Alberta's Child

“Who else but the Teamsters has been standing up to prevent the implementation of that provision of NAFTA that will allow Mexican trucking firms to do business in the U.S.? “

They already have full access to all the frderal highway system.


25 posted on 08/18/2013 8:53:25 PM PDT by dalereed
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill; bigbob

I have a diesel automobile and I’ve been paying between $3.65 and $3.80 for over a year now. Where’s this $5 diesel fuel at?


26 posted on 08/18/2013 8:59:37 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (I aim to raise a million plus for Gov. Palin. What'll you do?.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: razorback-bert
There is a good reason Oil Field Truckers get more money. You have to be one tough Mot))Xr %Uc(er to do that, it is one thing to drive on a nice four lane highway, and hauling 40 tons through miles of mud, no roads etc.
27 posted on 08/18/2013 9:06:27 PM PDT by BooBoo1000 (Behind every successful man is and amazed Mother In Law.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill
"Be sure and tell 'em, 'Large Marge sent ya!'"
28 posted on 08/18/2013 9:18:34 PM PDT by Rodamala
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Alberta's Child
to inefficient terminal operations where the customer doesn't load or unload the truck very efficiently (and the driver is "on the clock" but isn't getting paid because the truck isn't moving).

I hate to say this, but it's likely that the only way to fix the system is to have the Teamsters make some serious inroads into the trucking industry.

One problem is that the inefficiency at the dock is often caused by their "union brothers" who always seem to have a lunch or other rest break right when the truck arrives. And if you come in near shift change, you aren't getting anything done until well after the new shift is in.

29 posted on 08/18/2013 9:21:10 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (This message has been recorded but not approved by Obama's StasiNet. Read it at your peril.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

Then why do I know so many unemployed truck drivers? what is the disconnect with this article and reality?


30 posted on 08/18/2013 11:29:43 PM PDT by autumnraine (America how long will you be so deaf and dumb to thoe tumbril wheels carrying you to the guillotine?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sunrise_sunset

Yeah, that seems relatively simple to me as well. Pay a little bit more, and worker shortages have a way of disappearing really fast.


31 posted on 08/19/2013 4:07:51 AM PDT by babble-on
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Mr Rogers

Son got his CDL last year, 28 days on the road, does not do a diabetic any favors. And they knew it when they put him through school. Needs local job so he can control it.


32 posted on 08/19/2013 5:12:51 AM PDT by GailA (THOSE WHO DON'T KEEP PROMISES TO THE MILITARY, WON'T KEEP THEM TO U!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson