The global shortage of truck drivers is a growing concern for the transportation industry. As e-commerce and global trade continue to grow, the demand for truck drivers is increasing. By estimates of IRU (international road transport union), there is a global shortage of 2.6 mil drivers with Europe’s shortage at a chronic high of 400,000. With the wave of retirals coming due to ageing in US, Canada, Australia and Europe, this problem will accentuate with IRU estimates Europe’s shortage alone to cross 1 mil by 2026. In this article, we will explore the causes of the global shortage of truck drivers and its impacts on the transportation industry.
What are the causes?
The shortage of truck drivers is caused by a combination of factors, out of which these are the key ones:
- Aging workforce – The truck driving workforce is aging, and many drivers are retiring, which is reducing the number of experienced drivers in the industry. 35% of truck drivers in Europe are above the age of 55 according to IRU. In Europe, the average age of truck driver is 47 years and in the US, it is 45 years.
- Lack of interest in the profession – Younger generations are not interested in becoming truck drivers (only 7% of truck drivers are below the age of 25, according to IRU estimates). This is partly due to the long hours and time spent away from home, as well as the perception that the job is low-paying and not glamorous. Additionally, the looming technology threat of autonomous trucks is making the job unattractive for younger generations who believe it may not have a strong future.
- Licensing requirements – The licensing requirements for becoming a truck driver vary by country and can be difficult to navigate. This can discourage potential drivers from pursuing the profession.
- Regulations – Regulations and restrictions on driving hours and other safety measures can limit the number of hours a driver can work, reducing their earning potential.
What is the impact of the global truck driver shortage?
The impact, especially on the transportation industry, is multifaceted.
- Delays and increased costs – The shortage of drivers can lead to delays in shipments and increased costs for transportation companies, which can be passed on to customers.
- Limited capacity – The shortage of drivers limits the capacity of transportation companies, reducing their ability to take on new business.
- Safety concerns – The shortage of experienced drivers can lead to safety concerns, as less-experienced drivers may be more prone to accidents.
- Increased competition for drivers – The shortage of drivers has led to increased competition among transportation companies to attract and retain qualified drivers. This has led to higher wages and benefits for drivers, but also increased costs for companies.
The global shortage of truck drivers is a complex issue that requires attention from the transportation industry, policymakers, and the public. Companies can address the shortage by investing in driver training programs, offering competitive wages and benefits, and improving working conditions. New approaches such as relay trucking can be adopted to improve the lifestyle of truck drivers and reduce their time away from home. Policymakers can address the issue by streamlining licensing requirements and reducing regulations that limit drivers’ earning potential. Additionally, policymakers can make it easy for skill export of truck drivers from third world countries to reduce the shortage. The public can support the industry by acknowledging the importance of truck drivers in the global economy and supporting initiatives to attract and retain qualified drivers. By working together, we can address the shortage of truck drivers and ensure the continued growth of the transportation industry.