For the first time since 2006, a survey of trucking company executives shows the shortage of professional drivers tops their list of their concerns.
The annual survey of fleet executives is conducted annually by the American Transportation Research Institute, which is the nonprofit research affiliate of American Trucking Associations.
Improving economic growth in the United States has many of them worried that the demand for truck drivers will further outpace the supply of qualified drivers, ATRI points out. The latest estimate from ATA has the driver shortage climbing above 174,000 drivers by 2026 if current trends continue.
ATRI says 2016 data shows that nearly 57% of the workforce is 45 and older, while just 4.4% is aged 20-24, which is down from 2013 data when 4.9% of the workforce was in that age bracket.
“Survey respondents believe the top strategy for addressing the driver shortage is to work with state and federal authorities to develop a graduated commercial driver license program to attract safe younger drivers to the industry,” the institute says.
ATRI says this is one of its top research priorities as well, and it is working to develop and test a younger driver assessment tool – one that would reliably identify young individuals possessing the same personality traits as safe, older drivers.
Other top concerns of trucking executives, in order of priority, are the productivity impact of Electronic Logging Device mandate, which went into effect in December; the lack of flexibility in the hours-of-service rules that were adopted last year; and the lack of safe, available truck parking.
Other concerns are driver retention, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, the cumulative impact of regulations, driver distraction, infrastructure, and driver health and wellness.