Demand for truck drivers is on the rise. Yet, there are not enough young drivers who want that rough of a lifestyle.

Supply Chain reports Aging Truck Driver Work Force – A Major Issue in Filling Demand & Empty Seats.

With a combination of retirements and people exiting the industry, carriers need to recruit in roughly 100,000 drivers per year over the next decade to simply keep pace with projected United States freight needs.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a fascinating white paper analyzing the age demographics of truck drivers.

The bottom line is that the U.S. truck driver population is aging and there are not enough young drivers in the labor force to fill the empty seats that will be opened by the upcoming retirement of drivers.

As I think about how to attack the driver shortage problem, I believe the answer is more than higher pay.

Increasing Supply

The primary shortage is for over-the-road TL drivers who spend weeks at a time away from home, sleeping in their trucks, showering and eating in truck stops, and enduring unnecessary hassles in getting unloaded in a timely fashion.

Increasingly, we also hear about shortages in LTL and drayage capacity. Higher pay is the simplistic answer, but manufacturers and retailers can ill afford higher transportation rates so higher pay has to be associated with greater productivity.

Getting 18-year olds into the industry is critical, but is limited by the CDL 21-year old age requirements. Immigration can be part of the solution to the driver shortage, just as it is for high tech workers.

Higher Pay?

In addition to higher pay, Supply Chain also discussed reducing the legal age of truck drivers, automatic transmissions, using retirees, spousal teams and other related nonsense.

Good Grief!

Supply Chain missed the ballpark by a mile with that lame set of non-solutions. It is amazing how far off the mark the article is.

Reader Tim Wallace who sent me the article accurately summed up the situation in a single statement: “They missed the main result of the trend – automation.”

Self-driving trucks are on the way, as I have discussed at least a dozen times. There will not be a need for 100,000 drivers a year for a decade because robot drivers will eliminate five million jobs in the same span, if not before.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock