How a Driver Shortage Is Significantly Driving Wages Up

The trucking industry is booming, and every trucking company is scrambling to fill their ranks with more drivers. Online shopping has increased the demand for shipping, but most companies are lacking in drivers.

No Robot Drivers

Automated trucks were touted to be the future of trucking. However, they proved to be nothing more than exaggerated musings of the overly-optimistic. Actual automated trucks require drivers the same way aeroplanes require pilots. Automation in trucks in the near future will merely cover speed and fuel optimization as well as basic driver assistance. It could take control of clear patches of a highway, but it won’t handle the rigours of normal traffic.

Robot trucks are a long way from replacing actual drivers, and no trucking company will shoulder full responsibility by relying on unproven software. The integration of trucking AI, particularly self-diagnostic features, into existing fleet management systems will also make maintenance and repairs easier, minimizing downtime and requiring additional drivers. Instead of replacing drivers, automated trucks will increase the need for drivers, even as they make long trips safer and easier.

Increased Demand

Online shopping is slowly overtaking retail. The US has more than 225 million online shoppers — almost 90 percent of the total population. The online shopping trend has increased the demand for logistics and shipping. Trucking companies are sending out more trucks, but finding enough drivers is becoming a problem. The industry is on the brink of a massive driver shortage in the next 10 to 15 years, and it needs new drivers to prevent it.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of truck drivers is 55, and new drivers are too few to fill in the shoes of retiring old-timers. The lack of drivers has prompted companies to increase wages and benefits to attract new drivers and retain their existing ones. The average long-haul driver has wages of over $65,000, and top performers often get wages of more than $100,000.

New Drivers

The average age of new truck drivers is 35. However, anyone over 21 can start a career in trucking. Training for a commercial driver’s licence (CDL) typically lasts less than 8 weeks, and most trucking companies will have tie-ins with training facilities. Some will offer direct hiring or even provide trainees with allowances and cover the cost of their training.

Once you receive your CDL, it may require another two to four weeks of in-house training before you can hit the road. A rookie driver can expect wages of over $55,000, and a couple of years with a clean driving record can increase that number to $80,000. Most trucking companies will also have additional benefits and monetary bonuses for every successful trip, and even a passing mark on a physical check-up will earn you money.

Automated trucks proved to be a pipe dream, and the trucking industry is now faced with an alarming problem. The industry faces a massive driver shortage unless it finds a way to attract new drivers to fill the ranks left by retiring ones.

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