U.S. Trucking Industry Still Facing Driver Shortage
Becoming a truck driver might be one of the smartest choices a young person could make when entering the job market. Few professions provide the opportunity for an employee to make significant money, while demanding relatively little in terms of education and certification. In fact, the average length of time it takes to complete a commercial driving course is from three to twelve weeks. This timeframe varies among the states, yet six weeks is a safe estimate when partnering up with a reputable driving school.
Increased demand across the nation means truck drivers can look ahead to a secure and lucrative future – for years to come. The majority of the increased demand these days stems from heightened natural resource production at a national level. The additional gas, oil, lumber, and other precious resources that our nation is producing must be transported to processing centers, shipping yards, and other necessary destinations. Additional gas and oil production also means more support trucks are needed in the fields – like oil and lube trucks, repair rigs, yard trucks, and vacuum trucks. These short haul trucks are a necessary part of any natural resource fleet.
Truckers Can Earn Good Money, But Most Endure Demanding Working Conditions
Truck drivers are generally paid by the mile, so maximizing drive time is an important part of ensuring drivers are earning top dollar. These long days on the road can take a toll on drivers, frequently leading to increased levels of obesity, heart disease, back problems, and circulatory issues. Those looking to enter the field today tend to be more aware of these concerns than previous generations, which may make it difficult to attract as large a pool of candidates as in decades past.
Most truckers work rotating schedules that keep them driving during odd times, on holidays, during the night, and in inclement weather. These demanding working conditions are part of the job, but may contribute to additional difficulties in securing a new group of drivers.
What Is Holding Trucking Companies Back When Seeking New Drivers?
Today’s trucker is a highly regulated individual that is subject to significant government oversight and intervention. In fact, recent legislation has reduced the amount of hours a trucker can drive in a seven-day period from eighty-four to seventy. This has effectively reduced the earnings potential for most drivers by 15%. The ruling has been met with fierce opposition by many truckers, as these extra hours of driving time can add up to significantly more money in the long run. Although this guideline is meant to enhance trucker safety, it is a controversial move that has many new truckers questioning whether they can afford to live on less money.
Companies are also finding it difficult to hire drivers due to restrictive regulations concerning driving records, background checks, and drug testing. Driving records must be clean in order for a trucker to be hired, as the negative marks on the driver’s record can cumulatively add to the trucking company’s overall rating. Also, background checks are becoming more of a requirement for truckers as insurance companies have a really hard time covering individuals who may have had serious legal or criminal issues in the past. Lastly, the sad truth is that a fair percentage of those who apply to become truck drivers do not pass the required drug or alcohol test. This eliminates the candidate for consideration for months or even years after a negative test.
Truck drivers endure long hours on the road – hours that demand patience, courtesy, consideration, focus, and determination. Couple that with a non-traditional schedule, slightly less earnings potential than in previous years, and the health issues that can effect the truck driving group, and you have a recipe for industry shortages. That said, those who are looking for a secure, in-demand, and consistent job – that can still provide a good living, may want to consider entering the commercial driving field. Companies are out there and are waiting for applicants.