The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the whole world, including the disruption of supply lines for a multitude of nations as people are trying to get the supplies and goods they need. Just as shipping ports and shipping lanes are getting slowed down in the waters, so is the trucking industry struggling to keep up with the demand once supplies reach land. But there are several issues besetting the industry that are keeping truck drivers in short supply. Let’s look at what needs to be addressed if our land-based supply lines are to pick up the pace and meet the supply and logistics needs of our country.
The Pandemic: Fears and Uncertainty
Undoubtedly COVID-19 has rocked the lives of everyone across the globe. That alone put a dent in the number of new truck drivers that have entered the industry since the pandemic had begun. That slowing in immediate growth produces a ripple effect that can affect long-term numbers as truck drivers must take the time to become licensed and registered before searching for jobs—as a whole, that pushes everything back. Despite the enormity of COVID-19’s effects, however, this is just the tip of the trucking industry’s current struggles to boost numbers. The trucking industry is also competing with all the other industries as people are getting back to work, especially younger people, which means there are numerous headwinds that the industry must fight to reach the number of truck drivers that they really need.
But this is just one of the many facets that encapsulate the trucking industry’s hiring struggles.
Substance Abuse is On the Rise
When a truck driver is found to have committed a drug violation, they are required to complete what’s called a “return-to-duty process” in order to get back to driving their truck for work. Since 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been running the Clearinghouse, which oversees the data of over 2.1 million users as of April 1 of 2021. The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to make the preemployment drug screening process easier for trucking fleets. However, the numbers that the Clearinghouse has already reported brings out a worrisome issue that’s adding to the challenge of meeting truck driver demand.
In 2020, over 50,000 truck drivers were placed in the return-to-duty process because of positive drug/alcohol tests, refusals to participate, or because they knew that they had performed a drug violation. Already, with half of 2021 out of the way, it is looking that even more will be placed on return-to-duty than in 2020. In March of 2020, over 5,200 truck drivers were guilty of drug or alcohol violations. Looking at the same month of this year, the Clearinghouse has reported over 6,000 in March 2021. So long as the numbers continue to trend, 2021 will very likely have more truck drivers being placed on return-to-duty than before.
For every truck driver placed on return-to-duty, that’s a truck driver that’s missing from the fleets, a truck driver that is needed not a year later, but now. This puts further strain on the demand for drivers.
A Shortage Issue or a Retention Issue?
The shortage issue doesn’t necessarily mean there is a shortage of truckers out there. According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, over 450,000 CDLs are issued every year—which ought to help keep up with the demand. But when you take a closer look—it becomes clear why a shortage exists.
Most drivers who get their CDL are going elsewhere instead of going into long-haul trucking, the kind of trucking that’s needed to help maintain supplies for other businesses such as retail stores, warehouses, and more. To make matters worse, large trucking companies are trying to break down what regulations there are, which could make entry-level long-haul trucking jobs harder than they already are. Together, this creates a perfect storm that wears on the minds and bodies of truck drivers, resulting in an annual turnover rate of over 90%. It’s not that there aren’t truck drivers—there aren’t enough companies taking measures to keep their drivers from burning out quickly.
Hurt in a Truck Accident? TopResearched Can Help!
Truck driving can be rewarding, but the working conditions and demands makes it one of the more dangerous jobs in the nation. Every year, almost 700 truck drivers are killed on the road, and that’s not even those who survive but are left with injuries. If you’ve been terribly injured because of the negligence of another while driving, or if you’ve lost a loved one in a truck-related accident, TopResearched can help you find the best truck accident lawyers in your local area so that you can begin your pursuit of justice and compensation. Skip the guesswork and make sure your case is in the best hands possible!