April 2, 2024

Is the Truck Driver Shortage Real?

The ongoing debate surrounding the existence of a truck driver shortage in the industry has been raging for years, and discussions continue to this day. However, when we dissect the issue, it becomes apparent that the perception of a shortage hinges on the perspective from which it is viewed.

New people keep entering the industry, and they are excited to give trucking a shot. Yet, a significant portion of these drivers either opt out after initial training or fall victim to unfair practices within the industry. So, there really is a need for more drivers when we look at individual businesses. These companies find it hard to keep their workers for a long time; hence, the truck drivers shortage tale begins.

Debunking Myths

Recent data from the logistics industry reveal a significant increase in the number of truck drivers registered—over 45% since 2020. However, interpreting this data becomes nuanced when considering a broader trucking industry outlook.

From a macro perspective, the truck driver shortage tale is perpetuated primarily by larger trucking companies that face challenges in recruiting and retaining drivers. These companies find themselves competing for talent not only with other trucking firms but also with other sectors, such as construction and warehousing. Moreover, the growth of independent operators further exacerbates the competition for skilled drivers.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is also a significant player in this narrative of the truck driver shortage. ATA represents midsize and large trucking fleets, and its membership dues are structured based on company size. This association, functioning as both a trade organization and lobbying entity, aims to influence legislative decisions impacting the trucking industry. However, midsize and large companies are increasingly becoming a smaller percentage of the trucking industry’s total capacity.

Top Causes for a Business’s Lack of Drivers

Several factors contribute to the shortage of truck drivers within individual businesses:

  • Stagnant Wages – Failing to offer competitive compensation packages discourages drivers from committing to specific companies.

  • High Turnover Rates – Companies plagued by high turnover struggle to maintain a stable workforce, perpetuating the cycle of driver shortages.

  • Aging Workforce – The industry grapples with an aging demographic, with a limited influx of younger individuals entering the profession.

  • Demanding Lifestyle – The demanding nature of trucking, characterized by long hours and time away from home, discourages potential candidates from pursuing careers in the field.


But What about the Non-Asset-Based Carriers’ Fleets?

Midsize and large fleets often face challenges in recruiting new employee drivers. However, there are no such obstacles for truck-driving entrepreneurs who desire autonomy over their operations. As an independent trucker, one can choose which loads make sense based on factors such as destination, time in transit, and type of freight.

This provides greater control than what an employee fleet driver may have. Therefore, independent owner-operators are constantly entering the market. They can even serve as the driving force behind an extended transportation network, moving the threads of the logistics industry with their own hands. All because the number of smaller fleets in the trucking industry, as well as non-asset-based carriers, is expected to continue growing as barriers to entry for new players in the market become less burdensome.

silver cargo truck

The Last-Mile Particular Struggle for Drivers’ Safety

Safety is a principal concern when discussing last-mile deliveries. While technological solutions such as GPS tracking and dashcams aid in enhancing safety and efficiency, they do not negate the importance of ongoing monitoring and swift intervention. Non-asset-based third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are particularly invested in preventing risky driving behaviors to ensure the safety of both drivers and the public.

It is possible that, despite the cold numbers and statistics, the industry will never achieve unanimous consent about the alleged truck driver shortage. The complexities of the matter require a multifaceted approach. By addressing underlying issues such as inactive wages and high turnover rates while leveraging innovative technologies, the industry can begin to mitigate the perceived shortage and enhance safety standards.

At Last Mile Logistics, we remain committed to creating a supportive environment for truck drivers and empowering them to excel in their careers. We invite people to reach out with concerns or inquiries as we strive to drive positive change within the industry. So please call us so we can evaluate your transportation needs.