The American Trucking Industry needs more than increasing the number of drivers

❝ The US will be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026, according to the American Trucking Associations. Fewer drivers mean that fewer goods can be moved in a timely fashion, which limits companies from selling more and consumers from enjoying what they’re used to finding in stores or online…

But not everyone agrees that the shortage is the only thing constraining the trucking industry, which moved 64% of all freight shipments in 2015.

❝ …Trucking can be an “incredibly wasteful” industry. Billions of miles are driven every year with nothing in them, many drivers spend hours at shipping docks, and the traditional way of brokering freight through phone, fax, and email is inefficient.

And not only do those factors make the industry less efficient, they make the already-stressful job of trucking that much more burdensome on drivers.

I worked in logistics and traffic management for a couple of decades. Everything from loading freight with a handtruck to managing and scheduling. Solid article with modern solutions. Questionable if the industry will adopt these rational solutions. Cripes, computer-controlled, automated warehouses were available sixty years ago. It’s taken Amazon to get media coverage of what’s possible.

10 thoughts on “The American Trucking Industry needs more than increasing the number of drivers

  1. Michelle Meaders says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to rebuild our railroad tracks and ship more stuff by train? It would take a load off our roads. And maybe we could get better passenger service while we are at it.

    Or stop blocking the Mexican drivers who want to drive further into the country?

  2. Long haul says:

    “Robots could replace 1.7 million American truckers in the next decade” (2016) https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-automated-trucks-labor-20160924/
    “Robot Trucks Enter The Fast Lane As Daimler, TuSimple And Udelv Ramp Up Plans” (91/8/19) https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2019/01/08/robot-trucks-enter-the-fast-lane-as-daimler-tusimple-and-udelv-ramp-up-plans/#c86e71e2b4fd
    “Autonomous Trucking Likely in Four Stages, Consulting Firm Says” (Dec 2018) https://www.trucks.com/2018/12/27/autonomous-trucking-likely-four-stages-consulting-firm-says/
    “U.S. Army Deploying Autonomous Trucks Faster Than Expected” (Sept 2018) https://www.trucks.com/2018/09/26/us-army-deploying-autonomous-trucks/
    “Supreme Court rules truck drivers can’t be forced into arbitration” https://www.businessinsider.com/supreme-court-rules-truck-drivers-cant-be-forced-into-arbitration-2019-1
    “Robot Delivery Dogs Deployed By Self-Driving Cars Could Become A Thing” (1/8/19) https://www.ubergizmo.com/2019/01/robot-delivery-dogs-self-driving-cars/

  3. Ameriton Freight says:

    What do you think it needs. I think we need better communication and respect for drivers. So many companies look at drivers as pawns to run their business. We are the wheels (pun intended) that keeps these companies growing.

  4. Update says:

    “Destination Park”, Cohn’s short documentary, premieres on The Atlantic today. It’s a meditative window into the lives of truck drivers, many of whom describe experiencing overwhelming solitude, alienation from their families, and an ongoing struggle to pay the bills amidst medical challenges and the widespread layoffs plaguing in the industry. Economists predict that the freight industry is on the brink of a major recession. https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/595678/truck-driver-chapel/
    “Truckers warn of a ‘bloodbath’ as trucking companies go bankrupt and slash profit expectations” (6/20/19) https://www.businessinsider.com/truckers-warn-bloodbath-companies-bankrupt-lower-expectations-2019-6
    “‘I don’t know how long I can stay in business’: Truckers’ fears have soared to recession-level highs” (7/7/19) https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-recession-fears-morgan-stanley-2019-7
    (July 15, 2019) This month, multiple organizations that track the trucking industry reported the sector is heading toward, or is already in, a recession. ACT research showed two quarters of negative sector growth, DAT reported a 50% decline in year-over-year freight spot market loads and the Cass Freight Index for May 2019 saw declining freight shipment levels. All three organizations point to a possible “economic contraction” in the trucking industry in the coming year based on these factors. In a recent DAT blog post, financial analyst Donald Broughton said the economic outlook shifted. “First, it was ‘We don’t expect growth to be as strong as 2018, but see no reason to predict a recession,” he wrote. “Now, it’s ‘in almost every sector, in every mode of transportation, in every part of the globe, freight flows are signaling economic contraction.'” https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/reports-trucking-industry-recession/558726/

  5. Driver says:

    “Coming this summer: Gas stations running out of gas” https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/27/business/summer-gasoline-shortage/index.html
    Millions of people stuck at home for more than a year are expected to hit the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations this summer. Good luck finding gas.
    Not that there’s a looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it’s the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply.
    According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, somewhere between 20% to 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers. At this point in 2019, only 10% of trucks were sitting idle for that reason.
    “We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC. “It certainly has grown exponentially.”
    Indeed, drivers left the business a year ago when gasoline demand ground to a near halt during the early pandemic-related shutdowns.
    According to Holly McCormick, vice president in charge of driver recruitment and retention at Groendyke Transport, an Oklahoma tanker company, “A lot of drivers didn’t want to do the safety protocols. We’re also working with an aging work force. Many said ‘I might as well take it as a cue to retire.'”
    …another problem was the shutdown of many driver schools early in the pandemic. The pipeline of new drivers those schools would have produced has yet to be filled. And then there’s a new federal clearinghouse that went online in January 2020 to identify truck drivers with prior drug or alcohol violations or failed drug tests, which knocked about 40,000 to 60,000 total drivers out of the national employment pool.

  6. Driver says:

    Is There Really A Truck Driver Shortage? (May 25, 2021) https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2021/05/25/999784202/is-there-really-a-truck-driver-shortage
    “There is no shortage,” says Todd Spencer, the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. His organization represents more than 150,000 mostly self-employed truck drivers around the United States. Their interest in improving the pay and livelihoods of their trucker members has long come into conflict with the interests of the ATA [American Trucking Associations], which represents the big trucking companies.
    The big trucking companies want to secure a steady supply of cheap labor, and the ATA has spent years lobbying the federal government to loosen regulations in the industry. It’s now pushing for the DRIVE-Safe Act in Congress, which would allow 18-year-olds to begin driving trucks across state lines. Right now, drivers must be at least 21.

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