New ATA report focuses on ways to address the truck driver shortage

A new report issued by the American Trucking Associations is aimed at helping fleets recruit and train qualified truck drivers.

By ·

As long as I have been covering the freight transportation and logistics sectors, one (of many) prevalent themes I have heard over the years has had to do with the ongoing issue pertaining to the truck driver shortage.

There are obviously many reasons that it is difficult for carriers to hire—and retain—drivers. We have covered them on this Website and in the pages of LM, too. These reasons include things like time spent behind the wheel away from home and salaries, with drivers jumping from one carrier to another for better pay, among others.

Carriers are acutely aware of the driver shortage situation and are doing whatever they can to make driving a truck a more appealing occupation, but the challenges remain and are highly unlikely to subside anytime soon.

This has been well-documented in data provided by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), too. In mid-June, the ATA reported that turnover rates for truckload drivers part of large fleets resumed its pattern of heading up in the first quarter of this year.

This decline marked the fifth time in the last six quarters driver turnover has risen, with the rate declining during the fourth quarter of 2011, which was preceded by four consecutive quarterly declines. ATA officials said that the turnover rate for large truckload fleets moved up 2 percentage points to 90 percent for its highest level since the first quarter of 2008. And the turnover rate for smaller fleets-with less than $30 million in revenue-moved up much higher during the quarter with a 16 percent gain to 71 percent, which was its highest level since the second quarter of 2008.

So, as you can tell, this situation is nothing new. And couple it with tight capacity and carriers not exactly willing to bring more trucks on line until there is increasing evidence of demand to match up with it (it still is not happening in a meaningful way), things are likely to remain in a holding pattern. Meanwhile, with fewer trucks to fill, finding drivers remains a problem all the same.

The ATA not only tracks data on the truck driver situation on a quarterly basis; it also is putting out other kinds of research, too.

Earlier today, it released a report—entitled the Benchmarking Guide for Driver Retention and Recruitment—which it said is aimed at helping fleets recruit and train qualified truck drivers.
Data in the ATA report is based on interviews with more than 50 fleets, which have more than 130,000-plus trucks and oversee more than 155,000 drivers and contractors.

“We found more and more carriers are considering hiring inexperienced drivers and are turning to truck driver training schools to help them place those drivers,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “Demand for new, inexperienced drivers is likely to increase at a faster pace than in the past. Fifty-six percent of truckload fleets we spoke with said while they currently do not hire inexperienced drivers, they are considering hiring these drivers.”

Among the other findings in the report cited by the ATA was how half of the report’s respondents that had their own truck driver training school and closed it in recent years said they would consider reopening the school if they can’t get enough new drivers from their school partners. But they said this would be a last resort and that they would prefer not to reopen the school.

The driver shortage situation is real and not going away anytime soon. Carriers are making strides but more needs to be done. And the ATA needs to be commended for providing fleets with this data at the ready to be able to tackle the problem head-on. With trucking trucking’s share of total tonnage expected to increase by 2 percentage points to 69.6 percent by 2023, and its share of freight revenue heading up to 81.7 percent from 80.9 percent, according to ATA data, drivers need to hire hired, trained, and, yes, retained for carriers and shippers to better collaborate on supply chain success.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Download the Full 2017 Logistics Management Salary Survey
How does your earning power match up with your logistics and supply chain peers? Find out by downloading the full 2017 Salary Survey from Logistics Management
Download Today!
From the April 2017 Issue
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management market, and in marked contrast to 2016, paints a rosier outlook for career placement and advancement.
Is Your Tractor Trailer Yard a Black Hole?
Information Management: Wearables come in for a refit
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Maximize Your LTL Driver Adherence with Real-time Feedback
This webinar shows how companies are using real-time performance data to optimize the scheduling of their city fleets, as well as the routing of their standard, accelerated and time-critical shipments.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...

ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...