Posted on 08/10/22

What Is The Reason For The US Trucker Shortage

What Is The Reason For The US Trucker Shortage

Each year, $671 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods are delivered by truck in America. Trucking is responsible for 70% of all freight requirements in the United States.

This effort is being undermined by the so-called truck driver shortage, which causes serious supply problems across the country. What is causing this truck driver shortage?

America's trucker crisis is simple: America lacks professional truck drivers. It's not what you think. The truck driver shortage is complicated.

The high turnover rate of drivers for transport companies who can't cope with difficult working conditions is at the top of the list.

Do you want to understand why the US has a shortage of truckers? This comprehensive breakdown outlines the major contributing factors.


Truck driving was once one of the highest-paying and reliable careers. Everything changed after the 1980s industry deregulation. Truckers are now gig workers, despite being an industry that allowed only licensed transport companies to access routes.

Today, truckers earn less than drivers in the 1970s. The loss of union representation led to increased competition and lower wages.

Individual drivers will now have to take on the risk of long-haul driving and run costs as a result of the reform of the industry.

Furthermore, company vehicle leases can lock drivers into financial agreements that prohibit them from moving.

The company will usually repossess a driver's truck and any money they have invested in it if they quit.

Are you experiencing a labor shortage or something else?

Although a shortage in truckers may be blamed for everything, from late Amazon deliveries to fuel shortages, the reality is more complex.

According to the American Trucking Association in 2020, 3.36 million truck drivers were employed. Each year, 450,000 commercial driver's licenses get issued by different states.

Considering there are millions of truck drivers, why is there a shortage of drivers?

Drivers leave the industry

Although there are many qualified truckers, the work environment can be difficult and the pay is not sustainable.

Many trucking companies have a turnover rate of 95 percent. This means that almost all employees can be replaced with new workers within one year.

What's the problem with long-haul truckers in short supply?

Job demands

Truck drivers who enter the industry soon find themselves confronted by the reality of hauling goods within strict deadlines. Truckers face a host of problems that are beyond the control of their employers.

  • Truckers travel for approximately 300 days per year and often work 60-70 hours each week. This includes time waiting for trucks to load or unload.
  • Hours spent away from home can often lead to the end of marriages and other relationships.
  • This job is more dangerous and uncomfortable because there are no toilets, showers, or safe sleeping areas.
  • Poor access to fresh foods and hours spent driving can take a toll.
  • Truck leases, insurance, fuel, and other services are often charged by companies to their independent contractors at exorbitant rates.
  • Access to public toilets and car parks may be charged by some companies.
  • Many drivers don't get paid for cargo loading and unloading within the first two hours, since they are often paid per mile.
  • The job is dangerous and hazardous because of the poor working conditions. Truckers are at ten times more risk than other workers in the US for death on the road.

Insufficient representation of women in the field

It's no surprise that women are underrepresented in the trucking industry.

However, this does not mean that women are uninterested in the trucking industry. There has been an increase in women truck drivers. This has led to more companies encouraging women to become truck drivers.

There are still many obstacles for women who work long-distance driving jobs. These include chronic sexism and sexual harassment.

The Industry's Challenges

New drivers get their commercial driving licenses (CDLs) through large, self-insured long-haul trucking companies. New drivers are costly to insure.

Drivers agree to sign contracts with these companies for CDL fees.

Companies also benefit from the ability to train apprentice drivers to become commercial drivers once they have obtained their commercial licenses. To learn on the roads, most newly licensed drivers need to be paired up with professional truck drivers.

Federal law states that truck drivers can only travel for 11 hours straight after taking a 10-hour rest.

The company can save money by adding a trainee driver who is entitled to a lower rate of pay. This allows companies to employ two drivers at a lower rate to transport freight half the time it would take for a single driver.

Some transport companies are accused of using the incessant cycle of novice drivers to their advantage. These drivers are replaced quickly despite having lower pay rates and less favorable conditions.

Freight Movements are on the Rise

Although the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted transport and supply chains initially, freight demand has been steady in recent months.

Transformed demand

The trucking industry was affected by COVID-19's impacts. These included a decrease in entertainment equipment delivery, a drop in commercial food deliveries, and a shortage of vehicle parts.

These are the main effects of the pandemic on transport demand and shortages of truck drivers:

  • The virus made drivers become ill, which reduced the number of transport workers. Covid-19 and its effects put many drivers at risk.
  • Pandemic shutdowns like restaurant closings made it more difficult for drivers to get socialize.
  • During lockdowns, significant numbers of food industry delivery trucks were shut down.
  • Many automobile manufacturers were forced to close temporarily, creating a shortage in parts.
  • Transport needs to be experienced a significant decline when malls and shopping centers were closed.
  • Supply chains were affected by the high demand for freight and the shortage of workers, which led to mass shortages.

E-commerce sales are on the rise

E-commerce exploded after the lockdowns. As more people embraced online shopping, it was easy to see why. This trend has presented a variety of challenges and opportunities for transport companies.

E-commerce's expansion has an immediate impact on many of the most pressing issues facing the trucking industry, such as driver shortages, driver retention rates, driver health, and service hours.

Take, for example:

  • Due to public demand for fast delivery, companies like Amazon have set up fulfillment centers and warehouses in major cities.
  • With the expansion of fulfillment centers, last-mile and intraregional truck trips are increasing.
  • Walmart, which is a leader in e-commerce, offers drivers almost twice the industry average wage. This, combined with improved working conditions, encourages drivers to leave long-haul routes in favor of more secure and worker-friendly routes.
  • Truckers who want to leave the trucking industry can take advantage of more job opportunities, such as sales and warehouse positions.

Driving Vehicles at a Higher Cost

A significant change in fuel prices is a good thing. Truckers spend the most on diesel fuel. The fuel tanks of large semi trucks can hold 300 gallons of diesel fuel.

Driver incomes are significantly affected by the rise in gas prices. In addition, rising insurance and maintenance costs can also impact individual drivers. Trucking is impacted by the general increase in vehicle insurance prices. Heavy vehicles tend to have a higher insurance rate.

Potential Solutions

The transport industry presents a difficult environment for workers. What incentives are available to truckers in order to keep them on the road, and help support their future in trucking.

Higher salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for truck drivers was $48,310 in 2020. This is below the average national salary for all industries.

Truck driving jobs are physically demanding, but they also have long hours and low wages.

An important factor in improving retention rates for experienced truckers is increasing trucker wages. It is only one factor that must be taken into consideration. It is urgent to address the sub-par work conditions.

Reduce driver-age restrictions

Already, a program of apprenticeships is being set up for young truck driver aspirants. Drivers as young as 18 years will be allowed to drive large trucks across the United States.

Safety activists oppose the idea because it places untrained and potentially dangerous drivers in charge of some of the biggest, most heavy vehicles on the roads.

This strategy could be replaced by increasing wages or reducing driving hours, which could encourage experienced drivers to stay in the long-haul trucking business.

More female drivers

There is a huge potential to increase trucker numbers by encouraging women to work in the trucking business. There are many obstacles that prevent women from being able long-haul truck drivers safely.

These issues include harassment of sexual nature, inaccessibility to hygienic toilet facilities, and a male-dominated workforce.

The Women In Trucking group aims to remove many barriers that prevent women from becoming truck drivers. It provides guidance and advice to female truck drivers about how to get into the industry and what safe work arrangements to take.

This initiative encourages the formation of team driver partnerships consisting of friends or partners to share driving hours, life on the road, and compensation. This provides greater safety and companionship as well as the possibility to share the driving responsibilities.

Immigrant drivers

Some transport companies recommend that immigrant drivers be hired to fill the gap in truck drivers.

The H-2B Temporary Worker visa allows foreign workers to work in the industry. Employers or agents in the United States can use the H-2B visa to allow immigrant workers to enter the country for non-agricultural jobs.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 18.6% of truck drivers are immigrants, as of 2020. This means that migrant workers are already highly represented in this profession.

It is not necessary to create a new workforce, but better conditions are evident by the fact that there are enough commercial drivers' license holders in the US.

It is not ethical to assume that foreign drivers should be subject to the same conditions and wages as American workers.


Supply chain problems are caused by the severe shortage of truckers. Although calls for more female, younger and immigrant truck drivers continue to gain momentum, it doesn't address the root causes of low driver retention rates.

The industry is under constant pressure from concerns about future shortages as well as high consumer demand for fast delivery. Commercial truck drivers, like all workers, want a minimum wage and safe working conditions.

Trustworthy transport operators are essential in an industry that is being impacted by worker revolts.

Move Car Auto Transport has been providing reliable delivery services for more than 12 years. We can safely handle all your transport needs.