47,500 US driver shortage forecast will harm supply chain efficiency

According to a recent statement made by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) US supply chains that rely on Fotolia_72220108_Subscription_Monthly_Mroad transport will be suffer even further from the driver shortage in the trucking industry which is set to reach 47,500 by the end of 2015. This represents an increase of nearly 27% since the same time last year.  But that’s not all.

Driver shortage could reach 175,000 by 2024

If the US economy improves modestly throughout 2016 as anticipated, the driver shortage could escalate to 73,000 by the end of the year. Furthermore, if current trends continue, it is estimated that the shortage could reach 175,000 drivers by the year 2024 based on the forecast the ATA’s forecast that the trucking industry will need an additional 890,000 drivers at that time.

Significant delays and increased storage costs

The ATA then modified their statement by commenting that the driver shortage may never reach those high levels; but unless the current trend can be turned around, many business’s supply chains will suffer from significant shipping delays and high inventory costs due to the necessity to put higher buffer stocks in place in order to offset possible shortages.

The statistics behind the forecast

The forecast demand for drivers comes from two main factors. Firstly there are the expected retirements, and secondly there is the increase in supply chain traffic growth. Together, these two factors combine to account for 78% of the need for future drivers according to the ATA.

These statistics are based on the fact that the average tractor-trailer driver age is 49, and there are an estimated 3.4 million drivers currently employed the US.

New US government regulations not taken into account

The methodology that has been used by the ATA to arrive at these figures however does not include the effect that government regulations will have on the supply and demand for drivers. The main regulatory factor that will impact on all vehicles is the requirement to install electronic logging devices which will come into force at the end of this year. There is also a concern regarding the drivers-hours-of-service laws which also may be reviewed by the Department of Transportation.

If the total number of hours that drivers can work during any given week is significantly reduced, supply chains will feel the results with almost immediate effect.

Not enough qualified drivers available

The biggest problem for the trucking industry as a whole, and US supply chains too, is the inability of the trucking industry to be able to find suitable applicants. According to an ATA survey taken back in 2012, 88% of the shipping companies that took part in the survey revealed that the vast majority of workers applying for driving positions were unqualified to actually be employed as drivers.

In addition to the problems of an ageing workforce, the driver demographic is all so unfavorable with only 6% of drivers being female due to the necessary away-from-home-time that truck-trailer drivers face.

Hiring our Heroes

In order to help offset the driver shortage forecast the ATA has launched an initiative called “Hiring Our Heroes,” an initiative aimed at hiring 100,000 veterans.

What other incentives and changes do you believe need to be put in place to reduce driver shortages and take the strain off supply chains?

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