- Just about every industry news service is writing about the shortage of truck drivers in the coming years. With the implementation of the ELDs, as they did when the CDL came out, older drivers are leaving the industry like a flock of geese going south in the winter. Can’t say as I blame them, after years of driving a truck the government is saying they can’t depend on them to do a good job, on their own.
There are also a lot of news stories about the increase in freight rates. I remember when I was driving we always complained about the low freight rates and how hard it was for an independent owner-operator to make a living. A lot of time we brought up the subject, that if everyone decided to run legal, companies would not have enough drivers to haul all the freight they had.
That seems to be what is happening now, the government has forced everyone to run legal, thus creating a driver shortage. I read that driver pay is going up as well as freight rates, so it would appear that now might be the ideal time to become an independent owner/operator. No matter if you want to drive for a company or be an O/O, a person is going to have to embrace all the new technology out there.
The overall driver shortage has not been very reassuring this year. With the implementation of the ELD Mandate, older drivers are fleeing the industry. At the close of last year, the turnover rate for large truckload carriers had risen 5 percentage points. That translated into an annualized rate of 95%s, the highest recorded since the end of 2015.
The American Trucking Association is forecasting the driver shortage to go up by 50,000 drivers and if the pattern moves on there will be a driver shortage of 174,000 by the ending of 2026. The country’s reinvigorated economy is powerfully impacting the driver market with a one-two punch. There are more appealing job options available now for high school graduates, and demand for drivers is being pushed up with a scorching freight market.
To keep up and hire the drivers they need, major trucking companies are likely to increase pay. Pay increases for drivers now are averaging 2 cents a mile and in many cases in the range of 4 to 7 cents per mile. With the economic and demographic trends as they are, paired with the rising tide of freight, this will dramatically push up driver pay and benefits.
I doubt the major trucking companies are going to be able to keep up with the demand. As many of you know these types of companies are good entry level type jobs and just after a driver gets some time under his belt he would like to move on. Most drivers will work for six months or so and start hunting for better opportunities, such as being home more or a dedicated run.
Just about everywhere you turn, there are articles about higher freight rates and more freight needing to get moved. Your U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index revealed that while the level of freight shipments moved 12.6% greater in the first three months of the year, the quantity of freight spending was just about two-fold. The 24.5% increase indicates that driver shortages have turned out to be a lot more acute, putting increasing stress on rates as need grows.
The gauge also documented a 1.4% increases in both the deliveries and cost for the first quarter of 2018 in contrasting with the closing quarter of 2017. In spite of the 2nd consecutive month of decreases, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said cargo tonnage continues to be at a solid level compared to last year. In comparison, in March 2017, the seasonally modified index soared 6.3%, which was beneath February’s 7.7% year-over-year gain, but nevertheless bested any increase noticed in 2017.
In all major trucking lanes, there has already been an increase in tonnage and all trucking groups have seen an increase in the rate per mile. It might only show up a couple pennies here and there, but year over year it is up five to eight cents per mile since last year. Some van and reefer rates have increased as much as twenty cents and other lanes are seeing more of an increase. It may be safe to say that this will continue for the rest of the year and further on, because as long as the economy stays on track, and the government sticks to its guns on the ELDs, the driver shortfall will continue.
Is it Time to Become an O/O
Unless something unforeseen happens, I think the next few years are going to be great for the trucking industry. Company drivers and Owner/Operators are going to be able to make a ton of money. Companies and the government are going to realize that some of these strict regulations are going to need to be relaxed somewhat if the public is going to get their groceries and products as they are used to. When the average American starts complaining that the things they ordered are not being delivered in a timely manner, things will change.
I understand why a lot of older drivers want to leave the industry. When the CDL regulations came out years ago I almost gave up at that time, but I keep my mouth shut and did my job and things worked out pretty good. I am in a lot better position now, than I would have been had I called it quits a long time ago. No, the government has no business telling us how to run our business, but I don’t see it changing anytime soon. We have too many people in this Nation that think it is a good idea for the government to run everything and until that changes, the government will continue to stick their noses in everyone’s business.
All of you company drivers that are in a position to buy a truck and become an Owner/Operator now is a good time to do it. But I strongly advise you to look into all aspects of what is involved in operating your own truck. Older drivers may feel like it is time to get out and I don’t blame you if that is the case, but if you can hang on, the next few years should be good for the whole industry. I think everyone will make a lot of money these next few years if they play their cards right. For more on becoming an Owner/Operator read one of my earlier POST HERE!
As we age it is harder to change and do things differently, but we are going to have to change in order to be profitable in the future. Drivers are going to have to embrace all the new technologies that are coming about and realize the way things were done in the past are not going to work now. The ole long-nosed Pete with the four and a quarter Cat, two shiny straight pipes that will run a hundred and ten, are a thing of the past. It is sad but the automatic transmission and sixty-four mile per hour girlie trucks have taken over.
What is the driver of the future? Owner/Operators particularly are going to need the newer technology that is out there today to stay profitable. All major trucking companies have been trying this new technology for years now and a lot of it has been perfected and made easier for everyone to use. I remember when the Qual Com first came out and it was mainly the large companies that were installing them in their trucks. O/Os and drivers were jumping up and down about what an invasion of privacy they were, look at what we have now! We have lost a lot of our privacy, but these things have made our jobs somewhat easier.
You can just about get everything you need on a good iPhone, Android, or small tablet. Here are just some of the apps you can download on your phone, tablet, and laptop, things that will make your life a lot easier while you are on the road:
DAT Solutions is the granddaddy of truckload boards. Servicing Owner/Operators from 1979 Try It Out – The first 30 days for Free!
Jack Reports – has a lot of features – keeps you up to date with weigh stations, truck parking accessibility, diesel prices, traffic mishaps and many more items
Trucker Path – iPhone App – a lot of the features as Jack Reports – add WalMart locations and rest areas
Gas Buddy – a free app for finding the least expensive gas and diesel
Trucker Tools – provides a precise list of truck stops, diesel prices, traffic information and much more
Drivewyze Weigh Station PreClear – depending on your carrier safety score you can be allowed to bypass weigh stations
Weigh My Truck CAT Scale – app for drivers that enables truckers to weight his or her truck, pay for the transaction via Credit Card, Com data, ACH, and others, then get their weight displayed on their phone.
Big Road Trucking Logbook – easily tracks HOS – inspectors are able to read clear elogs
How about a blindside backing mirror? – I guess they are still in the development stages, but they sound like they might work. An article in Landline Magazine HERE will solve issues with blind side backing.
These are just some of the great things that are developed in our Nation every day!
Clearly, mobile phones and tablets have turned out to be a crucial part of life on the road. Cell phones are so significant to truckers that when questioned what they would be ready to give up to keep their phones, 20% stated they will give up their CB radios, 16% said they’d give up their spouses and 8% would give up their pets!
Yes, we have come a long way over the years and life has gotten a lot easier as far as bookkeeping and communication. Owner/Operators are going to need to embrace this technology to be profitable in the coming years.
Amazon has a lot of items designed to make life on the road easier for Truck Drivers, all at reasonable prices. CLICK HERE for a list of Tablets, Cell Phones, ELD Apps, and many other items on sale now.
Time has a habit of passing us all by, as we age. When you look at all the technology that has been developed in the past few years, just think what all is going to take place in the next few. Older drivers have a harder time keeping up because we are less susceptible to change, but somehow they are going to have to figure out a way. It is not just the Trucking Industry, but all industries are going through these changes.
Take a look at how trucks are loaded nowadays, where the forklift driver has the computer mounted on his lift. Look at an Amazon or Federal Express facility, where computers track every movement of a pallet or a single package. A totally autonomous truck is a long way off, but it probably won’t be much longer until the driver just has to sit behind the wheel and monitor the movement of his tractor.
In order for an Owner/Operator to remain in the business, he is going to need all this new technology to keep up with the new fast-paced world. It may all come down to if we want to work in this new world we are going to need to embrace all the new technology or go sit on the front porch with our big dog!
Like to hear from you, your Comments are Appreciated!