May 2015 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

The Driver Shortage—Not Just a Carrier Issue

Tags: Trucking, Supply Chain Management, Transportation, Logistics

Marty Ready is Vice President of Human Resources, Saia, 800-765-7242

Q: The transportation industry's nationwide driver shortage is getting worse. What is the cause?

A: Tougher regulations, a lack of interest by younger workers, and the graying of today's drivers are contributing to the driver shortage. The problem will continue to grow over the next several years—especially as freight volumes increase.

Despite the fact that carriers are implementing dock-to-driver programs, increasing pay, and offering hiring bonuses and better benefits to attract drivers, the American Trucking Associations recently reported that turnover at truckload carriers remained very high in the fourth quarter of 2014—an overall industry indicator of the driver shortage.

Q: What new solutions can carriers implement to attract new drivers?

A: Aside from the programs and incentives carriers are already implementing, another solution that is gaining traction is for carriers to work with their customers to make sure they are treating drivers like team members. Not only do drivers deserve to be treated with respect by their employers, they also want to be respected by their customers.

Relationships matter more and more in today's work environment. And, while many shippers might think the partnership with their carrier begins and ends with the corporate office or their sales representative, it is imperative they foster a relationship with their drivers.

Shippers can help by making their facilities more driver-friendly, which, in turn, helps carriers retain drivers. Not only does it make the pickup and delivery process more efficient for both parties, shippers can benefit from having a long-term driver who knows their business and procedures. It also reduces operating costs for both carriers and shippers. Additionally, Hours-of-Service regulations, along with electronic logging, make it more important than ever for drivers to get in and out of a facility quickly. Having a driver-friendly warehouse, office, or dock helps make that possible.

Q: What else can shippers do to help ease the driver shortage?

A: Another way shippers can help mitigate the driver shortage is to expand their pickup and delivery windows. Offering a delivery window that is convenient for their operations, as well as the carrier's, would go a long way toward providing relief for trucking companies as they schedule their drivers and routes each day.

Drivers are the backbone of the industry and its most valuable resource. Operating a commercial vehicle nowadays is more challenging and demanding than ever, and overcoming the driver shortage will take a concerted effort on the part of the transportation industry and shippers who depend on it to haul their products, and deliver them on-time and damage-free.

Shippers making simple, but meaningful, changes can go a long way in helping carriers attract and retain drivers—now and in the future.