Experts are saying that the driver shortage is back, and this time it could be worse than ever. According to an article in CCJ by Richard Stocking, former president and CEO of Swift Transportation, as of February 2020 the number of OTR truckload drivers hit an all-time high of 471,000 drivers. Then, after the pandemic hit, there were 23,000 fewer drivers. By August, the article reported, the industry had lost an additional 7,000 drivers and the OTR truckload driver count hit its lowest point since September 2012, when the industry was slowly recovering from the Great Recession.
In the last few months, the article goes on to state, many carriers have announced pay increases for drivers. Today’s driver is paid 13% more than the average driver from two years ago. But it turns out that today’s average driver is working more hours, while the average pay per hour stayed pretty consistent. “Drivers’ take home pay was keeping up with inflation, but it came from working more hours rather than pay increases,” Stocking writes.
You may think that the number of drivers will rebound after the pandemic crisis is resolved, but recent history doesn’t indicate that. The ATA has been sounding the alarm for several years, and the demographics agree with them: The current environment for OTR truckload driving isn’t attracting enough new drivers.
What Do They Want?
According to a recent survey conducted by CCJ, the answers to the question, “Why do you think fleets are having a hard time finding drivers today?” elicited these top answers:
- They don’t pay enough. (68%)
- They don’t respect drivers and the job they do enough or treat them as part of the team. (53%)
- They don’t get people home often enough. (50%)
Clearly since the earlier article above indicates that carriers are offering pay increases, the problem is not just money. If the only way a driver can make more is to work longer hours, that’s not going to feel like a pay increase and is going to contribute to the problem of not getting home often enough.
Then What’s the Solution to the Driver Shortage?
The solution is the old saying, “Work smarter, not harder.” With new technology such as an optimized transportation management system, carriers can:
- Plan routes based on HOS availability and driver preferences
- Get drivers home more often
- Help drivers feel respected when their trip preferences are clearly considered in trip planning
- Easily select the best loads from load boards without spending hours searching for them
Sound like a wish list? It’s not—current leading-edge technology makes it not only possible, but easy. Axele is a new TMS system that offers all of these capabilities and more, and even better, you can try it free.
Because Axele uses systems including algorithms and artificial intelligence designed to optimize airlines and railroads, the system is able to help you find the best loads quickly without searching through a dozen load boards. Plus, Axele plans trips for you utilizing HOS data from your ELD and your drivers’ preferences, ensuring that your drivers take trips they can complete within their available HOS and that meet their needs to be home or maximize the number of hours they’re driving.
It’s the next generation of TMS, now available to help you improve driver retention as well as improve your bottom line and save you hours of work. And even better, it’s designed and priced for small to mid-sized carriers. Why not take it for a test drive today and see how it can help your drivers and bottom line?