No surprise that driver shortage is No. 1 industry concern

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

It probably won’t surprise too many people that the driver shortage ended up in the number one spot of the American Transportation Research Institute’s Critical Issues In The Trucking Industry — 2020 list. The driver shortage has held this spot for the past four years, although those of us who have been in the trucking industry for any length of time know that finding qualified drivers is a perennial issue. Maybe it is not the number one issue in a given year, but it always is in the top 10 list of things fleets worry about.

I was speaking to Kari Beeson, Transervice’s senior director of recruitment, about the issue and she believes that from a recruitment standpoint the driver shortage is going to continue to grow. Here’s her take on things, “Social distancing and limited hours at [licensing facilities] have inconvenienced newly trained truck drivers seeking to obtain licenses and therefore we will see fewer new truck drivers coming into the workforce than normal.”

She believes this will have an impact down the road as demand continues to grow, increasing the driver shortage. Capacity also will be impacted for those seasoned drivers deciding on a career change due to the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, COVID-19 and retirement.

John Walker, our senior vice president of logistics, knows firsthand how the driver shortage impacts our customers. He says today it is harder than ever to find quality drivers. “Many candidates have a long history of job-hopping or poor driving records which are both red flags.”

Fleets that can get their drivers home every day have an advantage over those with routes that require drivers to be way from home for long stretches of time and those fleets that operate seven days a week and need to work weekends.

The impact of the driver shortage goes beyond not having enough people to deliver freight. Terry Lutz, our vice president of risk management, believes the driver shortage will continue to negatively impact the auto liability insurance market. “If you can represent you have experienced drivers the insurance carriers are more comfortable in underwriting your coverage. That said, the ultimate premium more than likely will be based on the fleet’s loss experience. Statistically speaking a more experienced driver will have less losses.” The driver shortage is making it difficult to acquire and retain experienced drivers.

Fleets need to focus extra attention on their recruiting and hiring process. Drivers have a lot of options to choose from and first impressions of a fleet become paramount in their attitude towards your company.

Unfortunately, I foresee the driver shortage continuing to rank as the Number One concern for companies as we continue to move forward in this new decade. It will be more important than ever that companies provide drivers with a great onboarding and work experience when joining a company.

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