Truck driver shortages often increase the costs of goods and hurt the economy. Approximately 70% of all consumer goods are transported by truck and, right now, the trucking industry is in desperate need of new drivers: 60,000 to be precise. According to the American Trucking Association (“ATA”), that is the number of drivers that are needed nationwide to end the current truck driver shortage. And that is miniscule compared to the 1.1 million that are needed to meet the industry’s demands over the next 10 years.
Old Dominion has recently held job fairs in an attempt to attract new drivers to the business. Chicagoland is of course a big trucking market; however, because demand exists at all levels, it is challenging. Old Dominion is even offering couples a $5,000 hiring bonus, while HMD Trucking in Chicago Ridge has groups of employees whose primary job responsibility is to recruit new drivers. Trucking companies and experts say there are often truck driver shortages simply due to the nature of the job and the benefits and pay offered by some other businesses. However, now trucking companies are trying to offer improved pay and benefits in an effort to retain drivers, with the possibility of some drivers earning around $100,000 per year.
In an effort to curb this shortage, the DRIVE-Safe Act has been reintroduced in the US Senate. Formerly titled the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, the purpose of the Act is to solve the massive driver shortage by promoting opportunity and enhanced safety training for emerging members of the growing workforce. The DRIVE-Safe Act focuses on one of the primary obstacles to bringing younger drivers to the industry: the requirement that drivers are at least 21 years old to drive in interstate commerce. This is so despite the fact that all states allow individuals to obtain commercial driver’s licenses at the age of 18. Under the legislation, once a driver qualifies for a commercial driver’s license, he or she begins a training program that includes 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver. However, with this legislation still on the floor, the truck driver shortage will remain an issue for the time being.
For more information on navigating the ongoing changes to the trucking industry, please contact the attorneys at Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC.