Shipping Wars: The Return of the Driver Shortage

Posted on 10/14/2020

Remember the 2018 truck driver shortage? While that may feel like an eternity ago, it’s been just two years. In that year, the industry was short a record high more than 60,000 drivers. Between then and COVID, it eased a little; though, that was more a symptom of slowing sectors of the economy and not any kind of solution to the circumstances plaguing the industry.

Now, as we climb out of a global pandemic that abruptly slammed the brakes on a strong economy, we could be dealing with those 2018 numbers all over again.

At the heart of the 2018 truck driver shortage were surging freight volumes. Now, as the economy recovers, industries will notice – and feel – an uptick in product they need to move. This means drivers will be in extra high demand (again). However, an already shrinking pool of talent was hit hard by a confluence of events this year, the pandemic being just one of them. Since the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse went live in January, an estimated 30,000 drivers have been placed in “do not hire” status; the majority of those men and women have yet to begin their return-to-duty process, effectively wiping them off the board as potential candidates.

Additionally, getting a commercial driver’s license issued or renewed has been rough going in many states. COVID-19 shut down BMVs across the country, and since reopening, most are still playing catchup. Worse yet, commercial driving schools are graduating fewer drivers due to limited seating while adhering to social distancing guidelines. This has the potential to result in tens of thousands of drivers not entering the workforce this year.

All of this is in the face of an aging workforce – the average truck driver being 55 – which will be retiring in the next 10 to 20 years without enough young talent coming in as they exit. The industry faces a crisis requiring an innovative solution. Until it gets sorted out, companies using private fleets will need to get creative with how they attract drivers to work for them in an increasingly competitive (and changing) market, which could eat up valuable resources and cash.

Another option for shippers is to utilize a dedicated fleet. One like Aim Integrated Logistics goes far beyond simply providing trucks and drivers. It delivers total transportation management complete with engineered routing, scheduling and utilization to increase efficiency. So not only does a company not have to pour an infinite amount of time, money and resources into recruiting, training and managing truck drivers, but it would also benefit from reduced liability, lower costs, increased speed to market, elimination of DOT compliance issues and much, much more, which you can find out about by reaching out to us: or 330-269-5329.

No matter how you choose to face the moving target that is the transportation industry, one thing is certain: It’s going to require more effort, time and money on the part of the shippers to remain competitive and profitable.

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