Speaking this week during the annual Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando FL,American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said fleets are adjusting to continued tightness in the driver market by increasing pay and hiring newer drivers.
“While the driver shortage is generally confined to only certain segments of the trucking industry,” Costello said during the “All About the Driver” General Session, sponsored by Freightliner Trucks, “it is having real impacts in how fleets recruit and retain their drivers.
Costello was joined by Jeff Flackler, vice-president of transportation, Wal-Mart Stores Inc; Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer of Werner Enterprises; and Steve Gordon, chief operating officer of Gordon Trucking Inc for a panel discussion on driver issues moderated by Dave Osiecki, ATA senior vice-president of policy and regulatory affairs.
“Fleets in all segments of trucking have told us they are having a more difficult time finding qualified drivers than they were a year ago,” Costello said. “As a result, more fleets are considering hiring drivers straight out of driver training programs and nearly three-quarters of those we surveyed plan to increase pay or have already done so.”
The industry needs to find an average of roughly 96,000 new drivers annually to keep pace with demand. If freight demand grows as it is projected to, the driver shortage could balloon to nearly 240,000 drivers by 2022, according to ATA data.