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What's The Answer To The Truck Driver Shortage?

The big news in trucking is all about the "truck driver shortage". Even the Federal Reserve joined in July 2018 and stated that shortage of truckers will slow economic growth. But it was not news at all. It had been forecasted as far back as 2011 by American Trucking Association (ATA). ATA estimated the shortage in 2018 to hit 63000.

Now, under the Trump Administration, there is a proposal known as the HR5358 DRIVE-Safe Act to consider relaxing the commercial interstate driver minimum age to as low as 18 to put more drivers on the road. But is the that really the answer? Or are there perhaps alternative solutions? 

Current Situation and DRIVE-Safe Act

Currently, commercial drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive across state borders. In fact, they cannot even move cargo within the state if the shipment will eventually cross a state border. These regulations have been in place since the 1930's. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age among truck drivers is 46. It appears that many truck drivers did not start driving until their 30's, according to some driving schools. 

The DRIVE-Safe act wanted to allow commercial drivers under the age of 21 to go interstate if they finish a 2-stage apprenticeship program and is accompanied by an experienced driver (older than 21). Those with military training will likely be prioritized.

The reception is decidedly mixed. Shippers and merchants such as grocers are behind the act. Other industry associations, such as Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association OOIDA came out against the legislation, stating that better pay and working conditions should be the cure for the high turnover rate, instead of trying to increase the labor pool and increase risk. Indeed, Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) calculated that the industry turnover rate for large truckload drivers is 94% (!) for 2018Q1. While old studies suggest that teenage drivers have an accident rate 4x that of older drivers, even in commercial vehicles, but the study was old (back in 1989!) 

For further thought: Alternative Driver Sources

Are there additional driver sources to be found within the US? Absolutely. 

Women: According to ATA, 94% of truck drivers are male

Minorities: According to ATA, 67% of truck drivers are white

Perhaps, lowering the minimum age requirement is not the only way to solve the driver shortage problem.  

While J. Ruble and Sons Truck Sales can't find you a driver for your trucks, we can definitely sell you the truck you need! 


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