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Driver/Technician Shortages: Count Only on Yourself

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The latest news is that not only is the driver shortage not getting any better (hint: it’s getting worse) but the technician shortage won’t get better for years, either. We’re talking about the technicians who fix your trucks and keep your drivers rolling and happy.

Here’s the big picture:

  • Women, a highly underutilized source of safe drivers, are only six percent of drivers and the percentage isn’t increasing. Female technicians…forget about it.
  • Millennials aren’t interested so much in over the road driving. Lots of them don’t even want to have a Class D driver’s license. And, they aren’t going to tech school either.
  • Older drivers are retiring and leaving trucking. Our clients have an average driver age of 55 years old, which matches the national average.
  • Government regulations like mandatory electronic logging, more precise drug testing and monitoring are driving out (pun intended) more drivers.
  • Pay increases, common recently, haven’t helped much, if at all because they still haven’t caught up with twenty years of steady inflation. In 1980, the annual average driver pay was $38,618 which when adjust for inflation in 2016 would equate to $111,455.
  • And maybe most important of all, efforts to increase the pool of drivers from the trucking industry have produced limited results. Ask trucking professionals (as we have) and they will tell you the situation is getting worse. No macro attempts to help the industry attract outside blood have worked, period, end of story.
  • Finally, the roads are more and more crowded, increasing risk, slowing traffic and hurting your drivers’ earning potential. Vehicle miles traveled is at an all-time high.

The American Trucking Associations have done a good job of defining the problem but no one has come up with a solution.  So, what can you do? Simply put, you have to rely on yourself, your resources, and your people.

Maybe you just need to invest in some new ideas. What you don’t know can hurt you. Why not tap into the brainpower of transportation professionals who spend every minute of every day working on this problem?  They might help you uncover a few new opportunities. The, you can decide what might work and what looks like a risky gamble.

But even with good help and advice, the buck stops with you.  Do you have the will, the resilience and the energy to break out of the pack?  To be different?  To take some bold moves?  It’s easy to throw up your arms and claim “that’s just the way things are in this business.”  Or, you can choose to be different, to stand out, to offer a different, better value proposition to your employees.  A-Players cost a lot more than your average duds, but they’re worth every dime.  They help you win. It’s time to begin investing more in your employees.

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