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With the unemployment rate so high, why is there a shortage of truck drivers?

Last week we received some unexpected good news in the United States as the unemployment rate fell to 8.6%. In Canada the news wasn’t as good as the unemployment rate increased to 7.4 percent. Without counting those people who have given up looking for work or who are underemployed (e.g. performing a job below their level of expertise and education at a wage inferior to what they should be earning), there are about 14 million people unemployed in North America (e.g. 13.3 million in the United States and 1.3 million in Canada).
FTR Associates estimated that there was a shortage of 200,000 drivers in the United States in the first quarter of 2011. How does one explain the fact that out of a pool of 13.3 million unemployed people (plus millions more if you include those who are underemployed), we cannot find 100,000 to 200,000 individuals to fill these jobs?
Here are some thoughts on this apparent anomaly. There were 3.2 million commercial drivers in the United States in 2008, including 1.8 million heavy haul or tractor-trailer drivers, according to the U.S. Labor Department. By May 2010, the number of big rig drivers had dropped 18.4 percent to about 1.5 million. In other words, there are 300,000 drivers that left the labour force that should be available to fill the available jobs. Why is it so hard to convince them to come back to work?
One of the most frequently mentioned reasons is compensation. In the United States, experienced truck drivers can make $50,000 a year at some truckload carriers. According to a BLS survey, the average wage was $39,450 in 2010 while the median wage was $37,770. The survey indicated that 75% earn less than $47,000 per annum.
The trucking industry has a long term practice of paying its drivers by the mile. While there is certain fairness to this approach since it correlates directly with the amount of miles driven and hours worked, it also injects a level of uncertainty into the driver’s weekly pay package. Inconsistent load availability translates into inconsistent pay.
Pay raises are difficult to implement since they cannot be easily correlated with increases in freight rates. In fact, there has been tremendous downward pressure on freight rates as the recession took hold and shippers sought a means of reducing supply chain costs. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, U.S. driver pay fell by 7.4 % in 2009.
Then there is the lifestyle issue. For long haul drivers, being away from home for days or weeks at a time is another deterrent. While there can be a certain glamour in being on the open road and visiting different regions of North America, spending so much time away from home can lead to a range of potential lifestyle issues (e.g. marital difficulties, unhealthy living etc.).
There are a host of other issues that contribute to the problem. At the heart of it is the fact that being a truck driver is not a recognized profession. The current driver compensation packages make drivers a commodity who can sell their services to the highest bidder.
Hours of Service regulations may or may not improve driver safety but restrict work hours. The new CSA provisions improve the quality of those drivers who meet the standards but make it tough on those who work for trucking companies that do not support them with a high quality fleet management program.
The driver shortage problem is coming to a head. Fleet costs are rising as more demanding emissions standards are imposed by governments. The CSA program will push poor quality drivers out of the business. An increasing number of shippers are challenging carrier rate increases (that are intended to cover these rising costs). A driver shortage problem that will exacerbate the capacity shortage is not a sustainable situation, particularly as we try to pull ourselves out of recession.
So what has to change? It will take a combined effort from shippers, carriers and governments to help avert a capacity shortage situation that will disrupt the Canadian and U.S. economies.
From a shipper perspective, there is a need to have “carrier friendly” freight. This can be achieved by removing inefficient and non-productive processes. This includes making improvements in freight packaging, loading, paperwork, vendor and customer network management. Many shippers need to get their “house in order” to keep their freight costs in line. As unpleasant as this may sound, freight rates have to go up (although the level of increase can be muted by Best in Class transportation practices).
From a carrier perspective, there is a need to run a sound operation, to properly recruit and train drivers and to offer them a job and a career within the organization. It is time to look at other pay options including guaranteed pay and incentive based pay for drivers who achieve certain metrics and CSA scores. There is a need to manage and communicate with drivers effectively including dispatcher training so drivers are treated with respect and dignity. We need to create a class of professional drivers who meet specific metrics on an ongoing basis and are properly recognized and compensated for their excellence.
For governments, they need to think through every law and policy they pass that has an impact on driver safety, performance and lifestyle. In North America we need a team of professional drivers that are intelligent, hard-working, thoughtful and motivated employees that serve as a differentiator as we compete with the other leading world economies.

Dan Goodwill

Dan Goodwill

Dan Goodwill, President, Dan Goodwill & Associates Inc. has over 30 years of experience in the logistics and transportation industries in both Canada and the United States. Dan has held executive level positions in the industry including President of Yellow Transportation’s Canada division, President of Clarke Logistics (Canada’s largest Intermodal Marketing Company), General Manager of the Railfast division of TNT and Vice President, Sales & Marketing, TNT Overland Express. Goodwill is currently a consultant to manufacturers and distributors, helping them improve their transportation processes and save millions of dollars in freight spend. Mr. Goodwill also provides consulting services to transportation and logistics organizations to help them improve their profitability.
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34 Comments » for With the unemployment rate so high, why is there a shortage of truck drivers?
  1. Stephen Large says:

    DAN!! You don’t honestly think that paying drivers by the mile correlates directly with the amount of hours worked!!!?? Yes, it does relate to the miles driven (obviously!) but it has almost nothing to do with hours at work! There is one of the biggest problems in the whole industry. Office people, management people, shippers, receivers, and everyone who does not drive trucks around North America for a living might think that 60 miles equals one hour, but YOU should realize that is NOT the case! Maybe you should go for a ride with a truck driver and take your stopwatch with you. You will find that over a period of a week or more, loading, hauling, clearing customs, doing logbooks and making sure the receipts all match, unloading, waiting to load and unload, going through DOT checks, etc. you are down to 30 miles equals 1 hour. AND, you still haven’t included the time doing your pre-trip inspection each day where you need to crawl under your truck and check at least 10 brake drums, 20 brake shoes, 10 s-cams, 10 slack adjusters, 10 brake pots, 5 universal joints and a steady bearing, 18 wheels and tires, 180 wheel fasteners, 4 windows and 4 mirrors, at least 30 lights, 2 mufflers, a fifth wheel and king pin, a radiator and fan as well as a thousand or so hoses!! Now you are down to about 25 miles equals 1 hour and that is if there are no traffic jams! Wake up Dan and look out the window! Drivers NEED to be paid by the hour for everything they do that is related to their job, just like a mechanic or a welder or an equipment operator on a construction site. That is the ONLY way we will get drivers in the seats of trucks!

  2. Patrick Smith says:

    Mr.Goodwill, I myself agree with Mr.Large on this account. By acknowledging that this is a profession of a trade and having a hourly pay structure, you will attract people into this industry. And that is what the younger generations are looking for recongized trades. Personally myself,I have seen many good drivers go because of the lack there of. My younger brother being one of them. You can keep looking across the pond for valued resources, and do nothing as has been the norm. for years now. Or step up to the plate and do something, make a change. Your resources are here, they just want Another note: Mr.Large good to hear your back, up and about. Thanks for your time, Patrick Smith

  3. Chris McMillan says:

    We need to wake up the people who sit behind a desk and have no idea what a driver goes through over a coarse of a day let alone a week. That means the guy/girl who dispatches him or the guy who signs his paycheck. If the so called management would give a #$@&* then we would certainly get a better driver. And keep him.
    One of the other many issues is that everyone is out to screw eachother when bidding on frieght. And no I really have no idea how to fix that.

  4. Tony Godsoe says:

    Companies need to start paying by the hour for all your hours worked at a decent rate of pay like any profession They need their own Driver Trainers and a trial for new people to see if they want to drive truck for a living and make a career out of it many younger people want to have a life too. Trucking is not 9-5 work it is 24/7 and you can never plan anything or set a schedule. Unless you drive a straight truck and only work in the city. Being paid mileage is crap most companies on the east coast only pay 32 cents a mile. Tell me driving in a snow storm for 32 cents is worth it. Just do the math. I agree the industry needs to clean up it’s own impression with some of the driver’s and their attitudes and lack of professionalism towards shippers and receiver’s, but so do many container piers where they have unions and could not care less if a driver gets his can or not.No wonder container piers like the one here in Halifax cannot get ships,They won’t move your freight for days or weeks to the trucks that are waiting in line for the gates just to open.And all this time waiting the driver makes nothing. All Truck drivers know the story of hurry up and wait with no pay.And if a driver is requested to stay overnite on short hauls when he could make it back home he or she should be compensated by the hour. We only have 13 hours legally in a day to work many of us would be off the road due to fines if we ran a legal log book to show the real unpaid hours we put in for the companies with no respect.

  5. Mark Perkin says:

    Are you getting it yet Dan?
    Stephen Large is 100% correct
    The posts above are the reality of the way drivers feel. Now for those who can’t understand that then it is you who is living in a fantasy world.
    Hourly pay and *gasp* the dreaded costs of overtime pay should be made mandatory.
    I’m fortunate enough to have found a carrier that actually engages in that practice. But they are definitely the exception to the rule.

  6. Billy says:

    Using your US numbers the average was 39,450 but that is before taxes. It is also before on the road living expenses which are paid in after tax dollars. If you take the living expenses off of the net pay those people are not doing so well. Sure a person can get a decent tax return due to meal/lodging deductions but that doesn’t help the weekly or biweekly take home pay. The gross there is only 758.65 and depending on where the driver lives the take home pay will vary wildly because of taxes being so different in many jurisdictions. It begins to look far less appealing especially if the US employer is not paying your healthcare benefits which can easily run a person 100.00 or more on a weekly basis, also taken from after tax dollars. This sure isn’t pay commensurate with the job requirements in my book. If as that weren’t enough I had paycheques that were double that twenty-five years ago, maybe not every week but the norm would have been between 1,000 and 1,000 gross back then. By the way many of these people are on the road far more than two or three weeks at a time without going home.
    The large pool of unemployed is not, in my opinion, such a great place to look to fill these seats. Those who are unemployed and have been looking for a job have likely either seen the ads for trucking jobs or have been told somewhere along the way these jobs are available and most aren’t interested for multiple reasons. Despite what many think not everyone can drive a truck, look around a huge portion of the population can barely maneuver their cars, as proof I offer this go to any parking lot and watch the driving in and out of and around these places for an hour and look at the small cars that theis pool can’t get in onne parking spot properly. Are these the folks you want to share the road with while they are in a big truck? Moreover people who are doing any job that they don’t want to and are only there for the paycheque, with very few exceptions, don’t do such a good job so I don’t think they are the solution.
    All of this doesn’t even touch on the drug tests, CSA, sleep apenea concerns, criminal records and the ever growing list of hoops a driver and their employer must navigate to get someone in a truck. Shippers and receivers in many cases feel they can treat drivers with no respect or regard, the public has no respect or regard and even many levels of government feel the same.
    Long and the short of it is that trucking is a much maligned industry by people who have no idea how much they depend on it. It is not an easy job although the general view is anyone can do it, I beg to differ and could point out far more about why than I have. Other posters have made many of the points (some the same as mine)and many more could be made but I guess there is a whole lot of to cons and to few pros if one were making a list about getting into truck driving for a living and the same applies to those who have left the industry as they have been writing that list, even if only in their minds for their whole career and we see how many gone off to do other things.
    It all reminds me of years ago and the whole boss saying truck drivers are a dime a dozen and the driver throwing a dime a him and saying go get yourself a bakers dozen then because I quit too. Which also reminds me that even thirty years ago I could quit a job in the morning and have three to five new ones to pick from in the afternoon, so how long has this really been going on for?

  7. Stephen Large says:

    Geez-I made a mistake on my prevoious post! Should only have to check 100 wheel fasteners on a 5 axle unit unless it is old like mine and still have the ball-seat style studs/nuts (inner and outer wheel nuts). Thank you Patrick and Mark for agreeing with my thoughts! DAN! WHY DO YOU (AND SOME OF THE OTHER BLOG WRITERS ON HERE) NEVER RESPOND TO ANY OF THE COMMENTS? It’s just like you are a big trucking company and we are just measely, mangy truck drivers who are not worthy of any response or interaction with you! Ray and James always eventually respond to any questions or comments that are directed to them, so what makes you so important that you choose not to respond? Yeah, yeah, we get it-you are a high profile executive who is working to save manufacturers and distributors a bunch of money on their transportation costs and you have been doing it for 20+ years! No wonder you are NOT INTERESTED in what we have to say! I, on the other hand, have been trucking since 1983, owned my own since 1987, and have driven in excess of 3 million miles (over 2,000,000 on the same truck and still drive it every day) hauling mostly oversize, overweight, extremely expensive equipment all over North America and have become very familiar with attitudes like yours! Want to know why truck drivers don’t want to drive truck for bigger carriers? Look in the mirror!! There are several truck drivers on this blog who have driven millions of miles over the road and have quit and now work for a small MOM+POP outfit or drive a dump truck locally or run a forklift or backhoe – paid by the hour and have management who values any or all input from their employees! What a novel idea! Ask the guys who work for you if they are happy or if they have any suggestions to make the job better!

  8. Tom Large says:

    No relation to Stephen Large (?) I think the major reason that we are short of truck drivers with unemployment rates being so high can be blamed on our governments in all provinces and in Ottawa. Truck driving training is not encouraged or supported by the Federal Gov’t Humam Resources Canada, Employment Ontario etc… I recently went to an employment office and enquired about AZ/DZ training for one of my students and was told that it wasn’t possible for assistance as there was no need or shortage of drivers in my area which is the GTA. I was told that without a need my student would have to go out and find 3 employers that would hire him and get letters before training would even be considered. The gov’t would sooner train someone in a high tech job, retail work or public sector rather than look at truck driver training. Truck driving is looked down upon by various gov’t and is only on the agenda of gov’ts when there is an accident. I check most job sites including Job Bank which lists up to thousands of truck driving jobs when I am being told that there is no need or requirement drivers. The minister of transportation in ontario is not a truck driver so there is no support there I guess?

  9. GeorgeC. Hynes says:

    If there really is a Driver Shortage?
    I have a 3 Year Business Management Diploma, and I’m working on a Economics degree 4th year York U. I also drive truck.
    Labour Economics 101.
    1.If demand increases and supply remains unchanged, then it leads to higher equilibrium salary and quantity of drivers.
    “This is not happening in our industry”. Why?
    Increase the incentives: i.e
    Wages,Home Time,Realistic time constraints,Proper Training, last but not least treat your drivers as an asset “they are” when your drivers are happy it will be reflected in there work ethic. They are on the front lines communicating with customers.
    The whole industry keeps asking how can we solve the driver shortage and retain drivers. There’s blogs, discussion boards every where. The drivers are telling Management, Executives how. I’m not going to repeat all of the problems. We all know them and know how to fix it. Yet the very same Executives, and management teams ignore the anwsers.
    I am convinced either they are perpetually lying about driver shortage to depress, and deflate wages.
    The Management teams lack the required skills,education, and insight to perform there duties adequately. What do ya think? have a handful of drivers with educational backgrounds be on these teams.

  10. K. Klonowski says:

    I completely agree with Stephen Large that drivers need to be paid by the hour just like every other skilled trade. Though there may not be a driver shortage now there certainly will be if trucking companies are not willing to train new drivers. Being one of those people fresh out of truck driving school I have found that every company I contact tells me the same thing,” sorry but we need at least 2 years verifiable driving experience”. Well when no one is willing to train how do I get that experience? Personally I have given up and took a job driving a fork truck at a factory and by the way I read how the industry treats drivers I’m glad I did

  11. george serhan says:

    Trucking Meeting Dec 17 in Williams Lake
    All log haulers are encouraged to attend the trucking meeting with senior-level CVSE staff in Williams Lake, Saturday December 17, 10am at CJ’s Southwestern Grill, 1527 Hwy 97.
    Maryann Arcand chairing the meeting; the senior CVSE folks will be the Director & Deputy Director from Victoria, and an Assistant Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Transport. Regional managers (cariboo and nechako) will be there, along with the enforcement officers.
    the purpose of the meeting is to deal with specific issues in that region; if you send me your thoughts on ticketing; enforcement attitudes; administrative fines vs safety infractions; and issues around compliance to highway rules in off highway applications (eg: abs, auto slax, lights, etc), I will make sure the leadership of CVSE gets it.
    July 2011
    Compiled by – George Serhan
    Submitted to: Maryann Arcand
    The 3 – R’s Education 101 – A Proactive Approach
    Thank You to Maryann Arcand for chairing this meeting and a Special Thank You to Officials from the CVSE, Ministry of Transportation and Regional Managers for Your participation in this very important meeting.
    I would hope that this meeting in Williams Lake is just one of many more to be held province wide between the CVSE, the Ministry of Transport and Regional Managers and not just the Forestry Sector but well include the Transportation Industry. It is hoped that these types of meetings would be open to All.
    Having been involved in the transportation industry for over 30 years, As a ( SME ) Subject Matter Expert – I see a immediate need for a Proactive Approach to be taken.
    I refer to this as – The 3- R’s – Education 101
    The Transportation Industry has – evolved, become heavily regulated, technical and computerized but the drivers and motor carriers are still in the dark ages.
    There is a need to implement an Educational Program. Through a coordinated effort of, the Stake Holders – Drivers and Motor Carriers, Industry Organizations, Provincial and Federal Governments.
    There is to many inconsistencies that Drivers and Motor Carriers have to deal with when in contact with the BC Provincial Weigh Scales – the Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. There is a need for transparency.
    There is no one that drivers and motor carriers can approach to get information on basic compliance guidance, log books, truck safety, the safe transportation of passengers and goods, reducing fatalities, injuries, property damage and Hazardous Materials incidents.
    Education 101 – would give the Drivers and Motor Carriers a Training Coordinator
    Education and Technical Assistance Program
    The overall goal is to provide free instruction and guidance on an individual or group basis.
    Training Coordinators would work practically full time on outreach efforts to educate drivers and motor carriers.
    Training Coordinators would offer classes and presentations covering the gamut of motor carrier regulations, including weigh station scale crossing procedures, truck size and weight regulations, over-dimension permit requirements, provincial and federal motor carrier safety regulations, log books and inspection procedures, and truck insurance registration requirements.
    The instructors – involvement ranges from meeting in person with drivers and carriers to just answering questions by phone or e-mail or forwarding a Power Point presentation on a subject.
    There are Training Coordinators carrying out a similar program in Oregon.
    Driver Training –
    – Drivers are not receiving proper and adequate training to safely drive and operate a truck.
    – The Driver Trainer Instructor program needs overhauling to meet the demands of the industry.
    – There are a surprisingly large amount of drivers who do not know anything about air brakes and there workings and they have a Air Brake Endorsement.
    – There is no driver upgrading or training – defensive driver program in BC, the trucking industry would greatly benefit. Such a program would have to be developed with input from drivers, owner operators, trucking companies, and stake holders province wide.
    Air Brakes –
    – There is ( Too ) Many Myths about the how Air Brakes Operate and how they are adjusted – ( automatic slack adjusters ) and if You do or do not adjust them. There are a lot of truck mechanics that don’t even know how to repair and service automatic slack adjusters.
    – I have documented to Maryann Arcand – problems with Automatic Slack Adjusters
    – There is many myths about ABS, how ABS works.
    – There is no training on ABS, Air Brakes, ( automatic slack adjusters ) available to the driver or the trucking industry.
    – A majority of drivers take the mechanical operation of the truck for granted.
    – There are is a real need for a driver air brake refresher – driver upgrade course the trucking industry has evolved night and day – ( technically ) – adj. 1. Of, relating to, or derived from technique. 2. a. Having special skill or practical knowledge especially in a mechanical or scientific field: a technical adviser.
    – what knowledge the driver has or has been afforded has not kept pace with the industry advancements.
    Log Books:
    CVSE and RCMP – personal use the log book and hours of service as a punishment tool to the driver, One CVSE or RCMP – person says one thing and hits You for it and the next CVSE or RCMP personal says the opposite and hits You again, there is no – Consistency: a harmonious uniformity in how a log book and hours of service work
    Question – Can a CVSE official tear pages out of a log book and take them as evidence for a log book violation
    I have been told by a CVSE person at a weigh scale that I should be marking My log book sleeper bunk when I am off duty at home middle of the week and was accused for splitting My log book twice in a week.
    Thank You for allowing My submission
    George Serhan
    Box 1385
    Vernon BC
    V1T 6N7

  12. Rickey Gooch says:

    The Trucking Industry was built on the platform of, “get what you can any way you can get it’, It made tough men for a tough system. CSA has highlighted all the faults of the trucking and a lot of drivers promised they would quit the minute that CSA went into effect.
    Drivers of the past loved the industry because it was an outlaw business. Police officers could hand out tickets and it was considered an industry hazard that cost a little but nothing more. The local judges and politicians all helped out the trucking companies because of donations. Today a driver can be removed from trucking for having a dirty taillight or because he received too many warning tickets. The games that most the drivers enjoyed like running hot loads or speeding under the safety of their, “breaker 1,9”, radar detector is no more and now drivers have to sweat out every trip they make.
    With all the misery brought by CSA, lower pay and longer road trips, why would any driver want to be part of this industry?

  13. Charley McCarthy says:

    Regarding the driver shortage; implement hiring practices that reflect a higher educational background from each candidate. Do not hire individuals that have any legal or morally questionable record or background and then offer a salary and conditions that reflect the higher qualifications asked. Take lessons from professional recruiters of other fields. Ask and offer professionalism and you will likely attract like minded candidates. This also applies in the reverse which has seemingly been occurring in the past.

  14. Peter B. says:

    Rickey you are spot on. But here’s something to consider. Ray the Hood, our fantastic(ha!) DOT secretary made a public statement that he wanted to get more trucks OFF the road. He wants to put more freight on trains and boats. The driver shortage may be orchestrated by these people in order to do just that. Shipping rates aren’t up but guess what rate has gone up…..RAIL. Of course, there are plenty of shippers that can’t use rail but the ones that can but haven’t done so in the past may be trying it now. The big trucking companies don’t mind in fact they may even favor it because it takes business out of the owner operators hands AND big trucking can still make money by putting their trailers on the trains. All of this safety nonsense is a load of nonsense. Follow the money, the insurance industry has been given the green light by our corrupt government to go ahead and institute their wish list practically unopposed. What’s especially infuriating is they don’t even have good evidence that safety now is at an unacceptable level. They(including the FMCSA) have distorted facts, funded studies to churn out what they want, refused access to studies and made claims that are opposite of the truth…in other words flat out lied. They seem to be operating on the assumption that, when it comes to hours, less MUST be better. The final disgusting element in all this is the blatant disregard for individual rights and freedoms as well as even the constitution on the part of the insurance industry which apparently thinks their already bloated profits aren’t enough.

  15. Mike Jones says:

    Dignity and Respect? There never has been any for the drivers….a plastic “crapper” is placed
    in front of the docks…for the “professional” and his co-driver wife. They are not allowed inside
    the building for fear they may spread germs!! The industry is a Pathetic Joke.

  16. Mike Jones says:

    I drive in the United States…I seldom see an informed blog/conversation
    about actual trucking issues..only vague foggy overviews.
    I drove last week. I get up 5am..go inside to shave/brush teeth…
    restroom filled with illiterate illegal alien mexican truck drivers…
    same illegals getting coffee..preparing to start driving for the day.
    Calif and border states FILLED with Spanish speaking “truckers” with old
    crappy trucks. Cops wave them thru at “border check points”..are you an
    American Citizen? (anybody can detect they are not)..cop waves them thru.
    Dignity and Respect? Not many journeymen want to hang around with illiterate
    illegal aliens. It is MORE than depressing to go into our truckstops today.
    Nauseating…yes. Many times I am the only White Guy..American Citizen at our
    Shippers/Receivers….me and the Mexicans…this is who they are filling up
    the trucks with to haul the freight as a response to the shortage.
    “Logistics” companies pop up over night with 50 Spanish Speaking drivers who have
    old dilapidated junk trucks and trailers from 30 years ago..overflowing the
    truckstops. It is Disgusting, Disheartening, Illegal, Depressing.
    Many American Drivers are leaving for THIS reason…and telling “Kids” to stay
    the hell away from the RIPOFF LOW WAGE INDUSTRY. New “trainees” will quickly become
    disillusioned with this filthy ripoff business and Find a Real Job
    that actually has some DIGNITY and RESPECT.

  17. Greg Jackson says:

    Yeah, I think NAFTA should be thrown out! Mexicans and Canadians can drop loads at the border. They both take business away from US truckers. Canadians have better trucks than Mexicans, generally speaking, but they still under cut our rates and drive miles we could be driving. We want fair trade not free trade.

  18. ERIC J. WALKER says:


  19. Eva-Maria Mull says:

    After reading this article I seriously cannot believe there are still people out there thinking they have any idea what it means to be a truck driver. I work for a major trucking manufacturer and have truck drivers in my immediate family. Mr. Goodwill, most of the comments you received from truck drivers are in fact true. A lot of companies, excluding the large carriers sometimes do not give a rip about their drivers. Back 20 year ago, an owner-operator may have made a decent salary, but only if he/she lived in his/her truck for a good portion of a 365 day year. Well, times have changed and yes, carriers are looking at tight budget margins if they even want to make a profit. The looser in this game is the driver!!!! Smaller carriers cannot afford to offer health insurance or any other benefits. Wake up! The extreme measures our government puts in place before anyone can drive a truck are meant for public safety. Yes, it’s true, drivers need adequate rest time, however, that means the carrier has to hire more drivers and pay them. It’s time to look at the big picture here. I am not surprised nobody wants to drive a truck other than people that can’t get any other jobs out there. Sincerely

  20. Gary O'Doherty says:

    If the canadian truck drivers should not be delivering into the U.S. as Greg Jackson states then the same should apply to american drivers heading north. We can deliver to the U.S. as long as the load originates in Canada and then pickup in the U.S. but that pick up cannot be delivered into the U.S. We are not taking loads away from americans as most of the drivers don’t want to cross borders into Canada and this time of the year don’t want to come anywhere near the northern parts of the U.S.

  21. Rachelle O. says:

    I’ve been in the trucking industry for the past 11 years. Pay rate has not changed since i started. News flash for the American I go to US five months out of the year and got a couple of offers to drive for them they even offered to help me get my VISA. I’m not talking about by the mile rate of pay they offered by the hour which is almost double what i get paid now. When i asked why they couldn’t find drivers one answered nobody wants to work 12+ hours a day even at a good hourly pay rate when they sit at home and get a EI check sent to them in the mail. He also commented most of them can’t pass a drug test, have a record so they can’t do cross border loads or aren’t reliable to show up for work every day. I was puzzled about why nobody wanted to drive and get good pay at the end of the week and be home every night they answered nobody wants to work around here. Come to find out the US government made changes to help the unemployed so they got nice checks to stay at home so why would some of them want to work. Something needs to be done to encourage these people to want to get back to work and contribute to society instead of living on government handouts and help the economy. I’d work at McDonald’s if i had to. I’ve worked two jobs for the last decade to support myself and i do very well. I do understand its not the case for everyone but for me i do what i have to do to bring in money and I am an educated person who has a degree in another field i just prefer to drive because it’s my passion but for how long who knows to many changes to deal with lately.

  22. Jon R Giesbrecht says:

    There may be shortage of driver’s;;;”I for one” Shutdown my driving because I was Sick and Tired of the Ploice/DOT. “Hounding us” and at my age I’m “Refuseing” to climb under the truck;AND checking Everything/Fixing and Adjusting;;””That’s the Macanic’s job”” and I just Refuse to work on the Equipment! “”In order to fill out the Form
    w/what 50-60 questions to CHECK,And Fill out;;EVERY DAY! ((“Yet the Police give me the Ticket”)) and I can get Demerit Points on “My License” that Increases my License/Insurance”))Sorry Boss I’m NOT DOING THAT! Good Bye! Thank You. Jon Giesbrecht

  23. David Robson says:

    Taken from your original post
    [Quote”From a carrier perspective, there is a need to run a sound operation, to properly recruit and train drivers and to offer them a job and a career within the organization. It is time to look at other pay options including guaranteed pay and incentive based pay for drivers who achieve certain metrics and CSA scores. There is a need to manage and communicate with drivers effectively including dispatcher training so drivers are treated with respect and dignity. We need to create a class of professional drivers who meet specific metrics on an ongoing basis and are properly recognized and compensated for their excellence.”]
    This is exactly why driver turnover is up over 85%. and why experienced drivers are leaving the industry. They felt their time and experience would account for something. Throwing the keys to new entry drivers and wishing them good luck is why they don’t stay. I believe that the problem lies with the trucking companies not standing up to do what is needed to create driver satisfaction and retention.
    I have my doughts, but I think all we can do is dream of the professional industry you speak of.

  24. This is such a controversial issue. It’s one that hits the very soul of the ‘North American’ trucker. Truck driver shortage? Wow, who are we trying to kid? There’s more truck drivers out there than trucks if the truth be known. But what decent person, just trying to earn an ‘honest wage’, pay their bills, do their job and BE PAID for it, and then come home, would want to be a truck driver?
    Wages are too low. Truckers get paid by the mile. Bad system. It’s just a dirty way to milk all we can from the trucker. So much more is expected from the trucker, than simply driving from Point A to Point B. Check the truck, fix the truck, get under the truck, log books to complete, wait for little or no money while the truck loads or unloads, wait in traffic for free, be away from home from your loved ones for very long stretches at a time, sleep in the truck, eat truck stop food………..and the list goes on. For this kind of life-style, there should premium wages paid, not a wage that constitutes subsistence living.
    There’s plenty of good, qualified drivers out here Dan, plenty of them. But, they are all fed right up with the ‘garbage’ they’ve been fed, for too long. They’ve either left the industry to retirement, or in pursuit of another career that pays and gives them the respect they deserve.
    It all starts with the shippers. Cheap freight rates. THAT’s what needs to change and really, every thing else would probably fall into line after that. The self-serving salesmen that work for the shippers should be put on the hot seat in court, when a truck has an accident, because he was trying to do a good job, under pressure, cause he knows if he doesn’t, he’s out of a job. The salesmen promise totally ridiculous schedules, and are not held accountable (a pet peeve of mine!)
    We’ve addressed this issue in greater detail at, Is There Really a Truck Driver Shortage?, where you can also submit your thoughts and opinions on the truck driver shortage.

  25. Broker says:

    I agree with the fact there is a driver shortage and solution to get more drivers into this industry will require support from our governments both USA and Canada working with both small and large carriers to create trainging programs to get new people entering the industry. We think there is a driver shortage now, wait until the baby boomer drivers retire, then the crunch will be on.
    The hot topic or disconnect in the industry is with rates. There are some shippers willing to pay a good rate but most shippers are only willing to pay a percentage of their cost of goods being shipped which does not match the actual cost to run a truck. I read several comments above that office people should get out the office and drive truck to see what trucking is all about, that can be said the same for drivers. Go spend a few weeks cold calling customers, quote on both spot shipments and contracted rates, see if all your knowledge can drive up freight rates. It is hard enough getting customers, then twice as hard negotiating rates in a very competitive industry. The battle of freight rates vs. driver pay will roll around the hamster wheel for several years to come. Do you think that low paying freight shippers are going to overnight start paying by the hour? NO! Our biggest challenge is supply and demand between USA and Canada. Canada simply does not have enough freight moving to the USA. Drivers, go talk to these shippers about raising rates for shipments from Canada to the USA, and you will get the response that if I raise my rates, my US customer will stop buying from me and find a similar product within the USA, then the shipper will have nothing to ship out. It sounds simple raise the rates, but that means all costs go up both at the commerical and personal level. I agree there needs to be a change, the first step is for those who feel they are not being paid enough for their services is to use three polite and powerful words when low paying freight is offered “No thank you”. Find a better paying load or new contract. Next step is those that have freight in lanes they like to run, work with your freight brokers or shippers to start finding ways to get more rate out of loads one load at a time. Hopefully, each load you get a little more rate than the last.
    I know how hard drivers work in this industry, shippers know how hard you work, the issue is getting the shippers end customer willing to pay more. Our open North American business environment is very competitive. Businesses purchasing new machines shop the market very hard for the best rate to buy and lowest cost to ship. This trend will conintue.
    Keep the idea’s flowing on this topic and hopefully some governement officials will read some of these blogs and comments and realize the need for change or at least help keep fuel costs low.
    To all drivers, keep up the great work you do, stay safe.

  26. John Heimlich says:

    There is no truck driver shortage.
    These stories you read all the time in the papers are largely planted there by the industry to keep a steady stream of drivers willing to work for the same pay as twenty years ago.
    If there was a real shortage then wages of drivers would be going up.
    I have looked into this industry carefully as a potential career and for ten years I have been reading this “truck driver shortage” drivel.
    Yet the pay per mile of drivers has not gone up one penny in ten years.
    Many trucking companies treat their drivers like they are disposable and easily replaced.
    There is no truck driver shortage.

  27. gino cousin says:

    It all comes down to money! The trucking industry is so backward compared to other industries. Why is it that someone like me with 15 years experience is getting paid the same amount that he got 15 years ago. Also I get paid the same as someone that is green “the new driver” The big trucking companies nickle and dime for big profits. They are only looking for 1 and 2 years experience drivers to keep the wages down. They take advantage of the new immigrant to pay them less and to keep wages down! Show us the money! The big trucking companies are in control of the situation. They are the ones who dictate and they are the ones who created the “driver shortage”. Stop going oversea to get cheap labour. Fix the situation here. Our problem as drivers is we need to unionize like other industries to get our fair wage. If you can get 2 million members and use 2 million members to shut canada and the usa for a week, they would pay us our fair wage. Long hours, disrespect, big responsibility and low wages, it does not sound like a job I would be interested in.
    SHOW US THE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Allen Roulston says:

    Maybe this is a good situation which will only get better.
    Supply and demand ‘rules’ would seem to indicate the pay for drivers will eventually rise considerably as the demand continues to rise.
    I would not go back over the road for any less than $1.00 per mile and a minimum of 2500 miles rolled within 5 days. Home all weekend (48 hours).
    ( minimum miles meaning, I get paid for 2500 even if I only roll 2000 )
    Just saying,
    ~ Allen

  29. Tamera says:

    There are a lot of drivers who would like to go to work but cannot get hired on. The reasons are many. I worked for a company that out of 100 applications submitted maybe 2 met the companies standards and the other two that did meet them, maybe we’d get them if a local job was not offered to them.
    For all the reasons mentioned by all those who commented before me, the over the road driver is one heck of a lifestyle, and what they receive in exchange for that lifestyle is nothing like it used to be in terms of compensation or how drivers get treated by their employers. Why is it so hard to get them to come back to work? A driver who is out for 3 weeks at a clip and sits more than he drives, gets all kinds of administrative fees taken out of his check may not make as much in a truck as he could flipping burgers some where. There are some burger flippers clearing a lot more than some of these drivers. If the driver is not with a unionized company who really hears them when they call in to try and get more hours? Someone freight. Unless a company lowballs all their bids it is hard for them to have freight consistent enough to keep their drivers moving in a way that keeps their drivers happy all of the time. Those companies that do lowball their freight run their poor drivers to death and those drivers are usally paid at a cpm rate that is so low because the company didn’t ask for a rate high enough to pay those drivers wel.
    There may be high unemployment, but at least the unemployed are at home, a driver can kiss their spouse and hug their children more than 3 or 4 days out of a month’s time. It really is not that hard to understand why there is a driver shortage.

  30. Brian Gallant says:

    There is no shortage of truck drivers just a shortage of good ones. If drivers were paied by the hour it would attract more drivers and if the pay per hour was high enough you would get some of the good ones back.

  31. Doug Clarke says:

    I am along haul driver operating a Tractor Service. I also am a provincially licenced Class 1 Instructor including Airbrakes. I regularly visit Trucking companies offering my services, both hauling and training. In general these companies know they cannot fill their driver requirements from the available 2 YEARS MINIMUM EXPERIENCE pool. What exactly is 2 YEARS EXPERIENCE? Is it having your Class 1 licence for 2 years? Is it local daytime experience?
    Driving safely & efficiently here in British Columbia requires,(in my oppinion), a higher level of training and experience than in other less challenging areas. I train my students on my actual trips where they get to experience what goes on during a trip from start to finish.
    I believe, but have been unable to convince most Safety Supervisors that they would be well served by using licenced Instructors to take some of their less than 2 YEAR MINIMUM applicants and provide them with some advanced Over The Road Training. One of my students took 90 hours of Over The Road Training with me, bought a truck, (wouldn’t have been able to get a job otherwise) and has been successfully trucking since. Trucking companies tell me they turn down applicants only to find the same driver show up with someone else’s Tractor Service truck then hook onto to the trailer and go. This is acceptable. I believe that Trucking companies would do well to reconsider this 2 YEAR MINIMUM rule and find ways of training that would shorten their self imposed experience requirement. Submitted with respect. Doug

  32. Bill says:

    Those of you dealing with being unemployed, come and join our Facebook group. Let’s support ourselves. Who else will?

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