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Truck Driver shortage creates opportunities for truckers

The trucking industry has a growing demand for drivers with CDL training to replace retiring baby boomers and meet customer demand for shipments across the country.

In an interview with DelMarVa Now, Rosalyn Wilson, senior business analyst of consulting firm Delcan, said the United States has an 8.2 percent unemployment rate. The trucking industry, however, is seeking out new professional truck drivers qualified to safely transport goods on long hauls.

The annual truck driver turnover rate with large carriers across the country is at a four year high of 90 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to 75 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Small carrier turnover rate has also increased significantly, up to 71 percent in 2016 from 50 percent in 2017.

As a result of the trucker shortage, driver salaries increased 5 percent from 2016 to 2017, at an average of $50,000 from $45,000 12 months prior. Stricter federal limits on the number of hours a trucker can work is expected to take effect in 2018, further encouraging fleet managers to hire more drivers to meet demands while staying compliant with new regulations.

Study shows that driver pay may increase

A study from the National Transportation Institute revealed that driver pay may increase by an average of 3 to 5 cents per mile for company drivers and 4 to 6 cents for owner-operators over the next year, Trucker News reports.

At the recent Truckload Carriers Association meeting, researchers showed that driver pay hikes were closely tied to freight rate increases and performance measurements filed under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.

Researchers also found current developments that created the driver shortage situation. For instance, carriers have downsized their driver force to deal with the recent recession. Also, many drivers are unqualified for the new, tougher safety standards, like the CSA.

Safety directors may wish to enroll their new employees in online truck driver safety training courses to give them compliance training.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in transportation and material moving occupations are expected to increase by nearly 13 percent over the next seven years, which equates to more than 1,400 available jobs.

Trucking rights for drivers under discussion

In Massachusetts, there has been ongoing discussions about the state of their commercial truck driver shortage. The Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association (MMTA) is concerned about a potential law that would limit independent contractors, reports the Beacon Villager. Instead, the organization says that truckers should be given more opportunities to head out on their own to find jobs independently.

Some say truck drivers in neighboring states have no restrictions, so drivers can cross borders easier and even begin their own companies in Massachusetts.

"They’re the cowboys of the industry," Bill Crowley, owner-operator of a small state truck business, told the news source. "They were the guys who got into the wagons and went West. It’s how a lot of the trucking companies in this state got started."

The MMTA is a non profit lobbying group that gives a voice to those involved in the state’s trucking industry, reports the organization’s website. They follow the proposals for changes to be made for truckers and make sure drivers' best interests are in mind.

Truckers who have recently completed their CDL training may consider locating to a state that is experiencing a shortage, as this could ensure a wider pool of opportunities for a new driver.

Women in Trucking founder encourages female drivers to join the industry

With an increasing number of open truck driving jobs in the United States, Ellen Voie, founder of Women in Trucking, is working to encourage female truck drivers to get behind the wheel, according to The Financial.

"There is an old-fashioned, male-oriented culture in the industry and women aren't appreciated as being capable and available," Voie told the source. "It isn't just the transport industry but also the whole of society that can benefit from more women being employed in the traditional male professions. Female drivers are often safer drivers and incur less damage to their trucks. This is something from which haulage companies can benefit."

Approximately five percent of professional drivers in the U.S. are female, which is more than most other countries in the world. Many women will partner with their fathers, husbands or other strong role models and complete long-distance drives as a team. These driving teams can cover more ground in a shorter period of time because with two drivers, it is easy to work within the federal hours-of-service regulations, according to the source.

Voie believes that the driver shortage problem currently facing the industry could be solved if the percentage of female truck drivers doubled to 10 percent.

Experts say that younger drivers are needed in the trucking industry

Experts say that the trucking industry is experiencing a driver shortage, due to an aging workforce, a rebounding economy and new federal safety rules.

Analysts predict that the new compliance standards of electronic on-board recorders and hours of service could result in higher costs for trucking firms and for the companies whose products they carry, which could trickle down to the consumer.

However, some states are cutting through those challenges and are experiencing increases in their workforce. For example, Nebraska and Iowa are seeing an upward trend partly because of changes in the agriculture industry. But, most companies are still finding it challenging to hire people in their 20s and 30s.

“One of the reasons why Nebraska has so many trucking companies in the state is because we've had a source of drivers,” said Larry Johnson, the president of the Nebraska Trucking Association. “And that source was typically kids that grow up on a farm [and] who are very mechanically inclined."

Online CDL training may help individuals who work full-time receive the proper education to launch a career in trucking driving. These programs offer students information on trucking safety and trucker health.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities in the trucking industry are expected to increase by 11 percent over the next seven years.

New legislation recently signed into law

By Utah Governor Gary Herbert will make it easier for military veterans in Utah to bypass CDL training and receive their CDL if they have worked in a military unit that required the skills for the license, reported the Deseret News, a news source in Utah.

The new law will go into effect on July 1, and it was created to help many military veterans land back on their feet when they come back to civilian life, reported the newspaper.

"Think of it this way, he was trained with taxpayer dollars in our military," Senator Todd Weiler, a Republican from Woods Cross who carried the bill into the 2016 legislative session, told the paper. "And then we're not going to recognize or give him any credit for that?"

Army Reserve Sergeant Marshall Porter is one of the military veterans that influenced the creation of the bill by Weiler, reported the source.

Other veterans who benefit from the new legislature can go to local job fairs that trucking companies attend to look for drivers, in the industry that is currently experiencing a driver shortage.

Recent proposals may impact new hires in the trucking industry

Many companies and owner-operators are concerned that the new rules that have been proposed by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will negatively impact the driver shortage, Cedar Valley Business Monthly reports.

Drivers, not companies, are being held more responsible under the proposed rules that could affect trucking safety, log books and hours of service. As a result, some experts believe that these measures could impact as many as 30 percent of eligible drivers.

Experts told the news provider that state departments of transportation cannot suspend licenses. However, drivers are graded based on their adherence to the rules, which can impact them positively or negatively with regards to pay and job opportunities.

"It is going to weed out the bad drivers," Darrin Gray, president of Gray Transportation, told the news source. "It is out there as a scorecard, so when you hire them you know what you are getting because of their performance on the road."

Employers can enroll there employees into compliance training for truck drivers to educate them on the new regulation that are currently being proposed by FMCSA. These classes can help operators stay up-to-date on industry trends and promote trucking safety.