In 2005, Amazon introduced Amazon Prime – free two-day shipping in the US for a flat annual fee of $79. Online retail continued to climb and now shoppers were buying just about anything of all types and sizes with no precedent.This led to a rapid disruption of the shipping industry and a large rise in shipping orders. The nation did not have enough truckers to meet the rising demand.
Then in the late 2000’s, the country slipped into a sharp recession and demand plummeted. Paychecks shrunk and smaller owner operators went out of business.
By 2011, the economy showed signs of recovery and shipping orders started to climb. Then in 2013, a strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulation on the number of hours a truck driver could spend behind the wheel was imposed. This new law accompanied by the implementation of new technology (electronic logbooks) led many older, experienced truck drivers to exit the industry in droves.
As a result of the HOS rule, 80% of motor carriers experienced a productivity loss requiring more truck drivers to deliver the same amount of goods.
With strong jobs growth and the dissatisfiers of spending hours on the road away from home, young people were not coming in to replace the old.
Though trucking is as ubiquitous as the internet, it is becoming more and more difficult to get a commercial drivers license (CDL). Many people could not afford to plunk down several thousand dollars and spend several weeks attending trucking school. And even after the training, there is no certainty that the trainee would amass the requisite amount of behind the wheel time to gain the skills necessary to acquire a CDL. The nation needs more new truck drivers – but those who are properly trained and certified.
Today, the American Truckers Association (ATA) estimate that there is a shortage of 50,000 truckers, a number that is expected to climb to a quarter of a million in ten years. The nation needs to hire about 100,000 truck drivers per year to meet the rising demand.
Driver pay is increasing which is driving truckers to stay, but currently it is not enough to make a difference.
If the demand gap is not closed, prices across the board will increase (everything that you buy is transported a truck) and the current (3.5 million) truck drivers today will be forced to work more at a time when sleep deprivation and fatigue is a major issue.