The ELD Mandate Adds to Truck Driver Shortage Woes
Did you know that many truck drivers have said that they would rather quit the industry than use an ELD device? In April of this year, Overdrive did a survey of its readers that showed 70% of truck drivers were opposed to the ELD mandate. The magazine goes on to speculate what the marketplace would look like without these truckers, “Assume the 71 percent of independents who say they’d quit actually do, and apply that to carriers in the for-hire population with one to five trucks. This would equate to an overall loss of about 260,000 trucks, according to data mined by RigDig Business Intelligence, Randall-Reilly Business Media’s equipment- and business-data analysis unit. That would remove more than 10 percent of the industry’s capacity. When the 71 percent is applied to carriers with up to 15 trucks, it leads to a capacity reduction of more than 27 percent, or about 709,000 trucks.”
The American Trucking Association (ATA) expects the driver shortage to grow to 239,000 by 2022, primarily due to retirement and increased driver demand. Combine this with the notion that many drivers will quit when the ELD mandate becomes live next month and the ATA has seen double digit gains in the annualized turnover rate for both small and large truckload fleets, jumping 16 percentage points to 90%, the highest it has been since Q4 2015. For smaller carriers with less than $30M annual revenues, the turnover rate grew by 19 percentage points to 85%, the highest since Q1 2016. This news cements the acceleration of the driver shortage, making it an ever-critical challenge to be solved.
At Kuebix, we believe that the best approach to solving the driver shortage is for shippers to implement a four-part plan that focuses on young age groups to ensure a steady flow of skilled and energized individuals that see the profession in a new light. The plan to mitigate the driver shortage includes:
· Embracing Robust Technology – As younger age groups spend lots of time online and with their smartphones, using mobile device apps to track vehicle location and to update the driving experience should be a key focus for shippers. Virtual reality is being used by many transportation companies to train drivers. This age group also seeks tech-savvy employers that continue to apply technology to address transportation management challenges in the form of social media and disruptive technology, along with pursuing startups that use advanced tech to drive their business forward.
· Recruiting the Recruited – Tackling the driver shortage by opening the profession up to those with actual truck driving experience who find it difficult to move from a trucker in the armed forces and/or driving chops in war zones is another way to increase the number of drivers. The most attractive aspects of recruiting the recruited is the fact that drivers from the services are already experienced, which should lighten the load substantially from a training and education standpoint.
· Tapping into the STEM pipeline – As the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula gains greater adoption from grade school on up, graduates learn problem-solving skills that can be used in transportation, along with other industries. By sponsoring STEM events, corporations can open the doors to their future workforce by showing students career paths to follow in the transportation industry.
· Recasting the Profession – Sitting back and waiting for the driver shortage to solve itself is not an aggressive enough solution that will end the issue quickly. The industry needs to get more determined, go on the offense and purse the above-mentioned opportunities. Think like the youth of today and reach them where they live, offer the tech they use, catch them at an early age and make sure they’re well aware that driving is much more than just steering a vehicle. Be at high school (and trade school) career fairs, be on campus just like college recruiters are and where members of the armed forces are concerned – be there for them when they need your support the most.
Plus, shippers need to be more creative and think of new ways to gain efficiencies and reduce costs. Technology like the Kuebix TMS can help by giving shippers high levels of visibility across their entire transportation networks—and connectivity among all partners. Cloud-based Transportation Management Systems (TMS) are helping companies connect in one place to less-than-truckload, truckload, and parcel carriers; receive real-time LTL quotes using direct carrier rates; and request and receive spot quotes using a single shipment management interface. Technology can help put a dent in the driver shortage challenge, while improving transportation operations – that’s a win-win for all parties involved.