The growing shortage of truck drivers is something we have discussed on this blog before, and now the latest numbers are in. Don’t be surprised to learn that they aren’t pretty.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the trucking industry lost 4,000 jobs in September alone. In a recent report, the American Trucking Associations industry group says the country currently is facing a shortage of 48,000 drivers and predicts that number will increase to nearly 175,000 by 2024 if the downward trend continues.
Virtually every long-haul shipper is facing this problem, and industry claims the solution has been difficult to find. One ridiculous proposal we noted earlier is to issue commercial driver’s licenses to 18-year-olds. Sadly, some in the industry seem to be fine with that idea.
“I started driving trucks when I was 17 and you cannot do that anymore due to regulations and our litigious society,” was one reported gripe from Detroit trucking executive James Burgin in a panel discussion at the recent FTR Transportation Conference in Indianapolis. Burg, who runs a 90-tractor flatbed fleet, continued, “We cannot even allow children of our drivers to be with them in their cabs to see what their dad does for a living.”
As a father, I can appreciate the notion of wanting your children to know what their dad does for a living, but how anyone can advocate for teenage drivers and putting kids in the cabs of big rigs is beyond me.
This type of thinking reflects a severe lack of understanding in terms of the life-altering damage that a tractor-trailer wreck can cause to drivers, truck occupants and the public at large.
Despite the cries emanating from the trucking industry, this is a problem that can and should be fixed, and soon.