The ATA is estimating a driver shortfall of about 50,000 drivers by the end of 2017, and if things remain the same these numbers will reach 174,000 by 2026. Fleets also suffer from a severe shortage of qualified drivers, that being, heavy haul, flatbed, refrigerated, and drivers qualified to haul Hazardous Materials. The American Transportation Research Institutes is recommending state and local officials work to develop a commercial driver’s license program designed to attract younger drivers. There is a need for the Department of Labor to get involved in creating a national recruitment program.
Industry leaders say driver pay needs to significantly increase, especially with the implementation of the electronic logging device. As many as one million of the nation’s 3.5 million drivers have yet to prepare for this new regulation. The Supreme Court rejected this rule earlier this year, so it is probably something we will have to learn to live with. This is only going to encourage older drivers to retire earlier.
People get into the Trucking Industry for many reasons.
One of the main ones – don’t have to get up and punch a time clock every day.
Don’t have a boss watching over you daily.
Don’t have to look at the same office every day – You have a different look thru your windshield every day.
Meet different people, deal with different personalities daily, and engage in conversation with people from all over the world, as we have all nationalities driving our trucks now. Good and Bad.
Trucking has changed a lot over the last few years. I am sure you have heard all the stories about the old trucks we drove, Stories about having no air seats, sitting on a bucket, holes in the floor, so you had a place to throw your empty beer cans out, and the good old Manuel transmission. The double stick, three of the lower ranges on one and the four upper gears on the other, you had to double clutch to get it all to work properly. A person looked like an orangutan, shifting gear. Usually had no air conditioner while you were doing all this, so it ended up being a very demanding uncomfortable day.
Yes, things have improved a lot since those days. Greater innovation by Truck Manufactures and the need to keep good drivers has led to companies to purchase better equipment. With all the advancements in the technology sector, we can now enjoy refrigerators, TVs, heated blankets, power steering, air ride seats, air ride suspension and even automatic transmissions.
The pay has improved somewhat over the years, but it still could be better. There are a lot more benefits now in the way of health insurance and 401K Plans. If a person doesn’t want a boss standing over him daily, seeing different things every day, not having a set schedule, and likes traveling, then a Truck Driving Career might be the thing for you. If you want to find out how to find a good job, talk to a truck driver and those of you that are already in the business, talk to other drivers and find out about other driving opportunities before you make a switch.
Couldn’t be realistic here if we didn’t talk about some bad things associated with a truck driving job.
Demanding Shippers and Receivers. Some shippers and receivers can be hard to get along with sometimes. Making you wait for your loads for hours, with excuses, they all have a different one. Wanting to add extra product to your load, resulting in you being overweight, thus creating a whole host of problems. A big fine if you get caught running that way or major lost time to get the overweight problem fixed. Having to wait to get unloaded, Joe the forklift guy didn’t show up for work, forklifts broke down or they just don’t have room for the stuff. Shippers and receivers are full of a lot of reasons why they can’t get the job done, but they don’t want to hear from you about why you couldn’t get something done.
Driving in all Kinds of Weather. A lot of companies are very unrealistic when it comes to you driving when you feel uncomfortable. But, your job, as a driver, is to deliver your loads on time. You should be able to handle all the snow, ice, wind, rain and mountains you come up against. It’s also up to you to keep your truck running in the freezing temperatures you encounter in the winter and the extreme heat in the summer.
Road rage, crazy drivers, seniors that can’t see properly and traffic jams in every major city in the US are also issues drivers deal with every day. As our population continues to grow it is only going to get worse. We all know accidents that involve big rigs are gonna tie up traffic forever. Needless to say, it takes a lot of patience to get thru the day sometimes.
There is also, what I call the Bad Diet Health Effect This is a problem a lot of seasoned drivers have caused by not eating properly. Eating unhealthy food, greasy hamburgers, greasy fries and just not getting a good meal, at all. Instead of having a well-balanced meal, a lot of drivers will snack on chips, cookies and candy bars as they are going down the road.
There is also the Lack of Sleep effect. Lack of adequate parking, overcrowded noisy parking, and not being able to find any parking at all, leads to many cases of sleep apnea. Companies that push their drivers to deliver on time after they have been delayed in the loading process, and receivers that want their loads delivered too soon, when a driver has not had adequate rest. Most of the time a driver gets his rest when he or she can, there is no going to bed at 11 PM and getting up at 6 AM. A driver never knows when he is going to get some sleep or rest.
Sometimes the ugly truth about life on the road is not very much fun to talk about. Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs we have now and that’s attributed to a lot of things. We face the possibility of a major traffic accident happening at any time. Most drivers see at least one wreck a day. A truck driver finds himself working alone most of the time. This makes you more susceptible to robbery, getting injured while doing your job and not being able to take care of it, or having a medical problem that you can’t take care of yourself, thus leading to more problems later in your life.
Because of the demands and stress of the job, a lot of people turn to drugs or alcohol to get them by. We know we have a lot of people on our roads driving impaired, just drive thru any major city at 2 AM, and we also have a lot of truck drivers driving impaired. This just adds to more dangers that we have to deal with.
I know this was some problems we faced when I was driving over the road, and from talking to drivers today, I understand things have not changed a lot. The ELD mandate is going to bring about a lot of changes to the industry. Shippers and Receivers are going to have to get their employees to get their freight loaded and unloaded on time. Companies are going to have to improve their scheduling and overall operation because doing things illegal is going to be a lot more difficult with Big Brother watching.
The technology and driver comfort will continue to improve. If we are going to be able to continue to hire good drivers, these things are going to have to improve as well as better pay and benefits.
A Truck Driving Career can be very rewarding. You have the opportunity to learn a lot of things that other people don’t know a lot about. A person is able to visit different parts of our great Nation, get to know different people and learn about the different ways of life, in different places. You’ll experience all kinds of weather and see all the scenery all over our Nation, from the Great Northwest, the Desert Southwest, middle America, the northeast all the way to the beaches of Florida. These are things a lot of normal people don’t get to experience in their lifetime. Best to all of You All – Like to hear from You!! Comments Welcome!!