Truck Driver Shortage: Causes and Effects

Over the past few years, the number of truck driver job postings has outweighed the number of new truck driver hires, leaving many open driving positions. While this may cause concern for trucking companies, it’s an excellent opportunity for prospective drivers to enter the industry and for experienced drivers looking to move companies. Learn more about the causes of this shortage and what companies are doing to attract qualified truck drivers to haul freight by reading below.

Reasons for Truck Driver Shortage

The professional truck driver shortage is a complex situation that is driven by several factors. Supply, demand, and the global pandemic have made it very difficult for trucking companies to fill driving positions. This article will explore each reason to see why it may be the perfect time to join the industry or make a move.

Retiring Drivers

According to a 2020 report from American Trucking Associations, the average age of an over-the-road driver is 46 years old, and the average age of new truck drivers entering the industry is 35 years old. An aging truck driver population means more are retiring or getting closer to retirement every year. Over time, this lowers the number of truckers ready to haul freight across the country. The industry needs younger, highly skilled, and safe drivers to keep their pipeline full for the long term. If these newly vacant positions remain open, transportation companies start to increase incentives to join their team.

Demand Increase Due to COVID-19

While there was a capacity demand shortage during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand has dramatically increased in 2021. Industries are recovering, shipped products, and truckers are working hard to keep up with the restored and increased demand.

The pandemic affected families in many ways. Some drivers chose to reduce working hours, retire early or change careers due to changes at home. New challenges ranged from at-home learning for school-aged children, sudden lay-offs in other industries, and remote work opportunities.

Through all of the economic hardships created by the pandemic, truck drivers were among the few who were somewhat immune to the employment downsizing. Professional truck driving was an essential service throughout the pandemic. It is still playing a critical role in 2021, as truckers transport vaccines, medical supplies, and groceries across the nation. Trucking companies with solid financial portfolios and solid business models weathered the storm well. However, some trucking companies that were already struggling ultimately failed under the weight of the new challenges.

Trucking is a rewarding career that comes with many benefits. Whether you’re considering heading back to driving after years away or looking to launch a new job in the transportation industry, explore these benefits of professional truck driving.

Competitive Pay

Truck drivers can enjoy significant weekly take-home pay. Truck drivers can earn on average between $55,000 and $73,000 annually, depending on their chosen route. Long-haul routes and routes with special cargo can be more lucrative than shorter routes and general freight. In addition, many companies are now offering sign-on weekly pay incentives on specific accounts to attract more qualified drivers. Right now, is a great time to enter the industry or find a company that respects and values your worth.

Proper Training

A CDL is required to drive a commercial rig. Many cargo options require additional endorsements. This can feel like a barrier to entering the industry, which only fuels the truck driver shortage. Look for companies that have relationships with CDL schools to get started to create a seamless transition from student to the professional truck driver. Enroll in a program that focuses on developing the proper skills you need to safely operate a truck and trailer. This will ensure you successfully attain your CDL and are put on the road towards a longer-term career in transportation.

Strong Community

Truck drivers are part of a proud, tight-knit community. Whether you’re working as a team truck driver, owner-operator, or filling another role within the industry, you are part of a nationwide team of talented and caring individuals. Truck drivers were praised as American heroes, health care providers, and first responders during the pandemic. While the truck driving community has always been proud of their work, the pandemic spotlight is drivers’ vital role in our overall economy and delivering critical supplies.

Look for a company that has been in business for many years; these companies often have a strong sense of community within the organization. These co-workers can become your most effective support system and great friends. To get a glimpse into a company’s culture, investigate their social media pages.