Truck News


Industry has itself to blame for the driver shortage

Dear Editor:

Dear Editor:

I have just read Lou Smyrlis’ editorial titled “He who has the drivers wins.” I do not understand why transportation periodicals of the stature of Truck News continue to lead the public astray in their editorials regarding the shortage of professional drivers?

I received a phone call from a friend who has been a professional line-haul driver since 1968 and at this time has put his tractor up for sale. The past 15 years he has been leased to the best companies in Canada and still cannot survive with the contemporary rates available for trucking over the road! This individual is a “professional” in the true sense of the word.

He is computer literate and his wife is an accountant, both being business-oriented people. There is only one reason for the driver shortage over the past 25 years and that is totally based on the economics of the industry. The average line-haul driver today earns approximately $6-$8/hour for an investment in the neighbourhood of $150,000-$180,000, drives 12,000-16,000 miles per month, six days per week and has to service the equipment, do bookkeeping, is rarely at home and the shippers who control the rate structure cannot understand why their is a chronic driver shortage!

The other trades all command a livable wage, why not transportation? Why would any father recommend driving as a career when trucking has not been a viable way to earn a living for the past 30 years!

I quit driving in 1981 as each year I was earning less and working more.

Lou, could you get excited about a career as an editorial director for the monetary sum of $6-$8 per hour? In Western Canada, commercial vehicular traffic accidents have increased considerably due to hiring drivers from the third world, who are not qualified as professional drivers, but are filling the void left by Canadians who have abandoned the industry to try and earn a living elsewhere.

There was a time in history where professional drivers were respected, possibly not university grads, but were the equivalent in their trade of trucking. Today when driving, the word professional does not apply to the majority of contemporary truckers. I do look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

John Wilksne

Vancouver, B.C.

Hello Mr. Wihksne.

Thank you for your e-mail and your interest in our publications. I agree with your views about working conditions and pay for today’s drivers. In fact, I mentioned in my column that a) it’s inaccurate to say we have a driver shortage. Rather what we have is an inability to continue to attract the same people to the industry; b) also, and more to your point, I mentioned that drivers themselves, due to their negative experiences, are not recommending the profession to their children.

Lou Smyrlis

Editorial Director

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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