Truck driver shortage is ‘mythical’, OOIDA says

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is taking aim at what it refers to as the “mythical” truck driver shortage in a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

OOIDA executive vice-president Lewie Pugh writes that more than 400,000 commercial licences are issued a year, and cites a U.S. Department of Labor finding that high turnover at large carriers was one of the reasons behind a perceived shortage.

truck driver
(Photo: istock)

The letter comes in the wake of the International Trade Administration’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness’ call for the department to “take a leadership role to coordinate federal agencies to immediately address the driver shortage that threatens the effectiveness of the nation’s critical supply chains.”

“For decades, our country’s largest motor carriers and the trade associations that represent them have perpetuated the myth of a driver shortage to promote policies that maintain the cheapest labor supply possible,” Pugh says.

“A few areas that need urgent attention from federal regulators and lawmakers include increasing truck parking capacity, providing fair levels and methods of compensation, repealing the exemption that denies truckers guaranteed overtime pay, better driver training programs, and eliminating excessive detention time,” Pugh adds.

“Addressing these inefficiencies will repair supply chain vulnerabilities in a far more sustainable manner than simply allowing more drivers to enter the industry.”

OOIDA voiced those opinions during a roundtable last month with the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Labor, which focused on best practices to prioritize retention and limit turnover.

“The Department of Commerce, along with the Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, must prioritize resolving the underlying circumstances that have led to excessive churn. Otherwise, we anticipate turnover rates will remain precariously high or even increase no matter how many new drivers are eligible to enter the industry,” Pugh says.

OOIDA represents 150,000 members.

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  • If I can’t buy a new Kenworth for $100,000 does that mean there’s a Kenworth shortage or does it mean I’m being impractical? The same holds true for the imaginary driver shortage! Do better than your competition hey better than your competition treat your stuff better than your competition and maybe your imaginary driver shortage might evaporate!

  • With the new rules and everything gone to electronic devices there is no need for the industry to be doing paid miles. This should all go to hourly pay. Paid off the electronic log. They say you can’t cheat the system fair for all,

    • It should but you know it never will. The whole trucking industry’s business model is built on free labour from their drivers. Plus they think so much of us that they couldn’t possibly trust us not to be padding our hours to get more money for less work.

    • In 2005 a study was done the Fed gov of Canada that said O T R drivers should make at least 1.9 times the minimum wage plus medical care plus overtime. Large players lobby to make sure it never happened.

      • I’m an hourly paid oil patch driver,no end of work and do better than twice our minimum wage. The opportunities are out there,plan on getting dirty and throwing on chains!

    • The driver shortage is a real myth. The real problem is insurance. New driver’s have really hard times finding work because of a lack of experience and proven driving history. Aside from the driver perks mentioned here, companies must invest more in driver training with the intention to address new driver skill sets. Insurance companies are just not going to take the chance on insuring new truck drivers. Hopefully transport companies are realizing this.

    • I have a cdl a haven’t used it in 5 years because for the hours i would work and time i would be away from home its just not worth it.

  • People don’t want to be treated like subhuman while being paid peanuts to stay away from family and friends for weeks or months at a time. Being forced to park in extremely unsafe places, where you supposedly sleep, because the shipper or receiver won’t let them on their lot until right before they want to begin wasting their time by doing nothing for hours, when they could load a trailer in a half hour. Then add the nonsense of a new rule instituted by some fools without a clue about the industry every time you turn around. Then electronic logging, satellite surveillance, driver facing cameras in the cab. Fast food is all that’s available at many so called truck stops. Lot lizards, dope dealers, thief’s and scammers every where there are trucks accosting you. What’s the problem?
    I know lots who have either left the industry or would if they could find something suitable to do, this may be the time when many can given the demand for employees elsewhere. I know people who went through those courses, got jobs and went back to what they use to do in a few months once they realized all of these realities.
    The mental midgets making the rules and the ones hiring drivers should have to get in a truck for about three months and see how bright they think their ideas are after that. There is no driver shortage just people that have had enough of this or want no part of it or the high cost of living on the road.

    • I absolutely agree I was a go getter from 2000 to 2017 rarely seeing my kids i promised myself I would get out if electronic logging became mandatory and I did, I went local for a company that had driver facing cameras no smoking eating talking even on Bluetooth must remain 5 car lengths behind every car in NYC lol I quit to take local a lot of heavy unloading and pay is not great but home with my kids every night, to much forceful regulations forced out most senior experienced drivers so now they want 18 year olds but the regulations was in the name of safety, Trump rolled back every regulation enacted by Obama but those imposed on trucking industry because the head of ATA was one of biggest donors these regulations make trucking very unattractive there’s waay to much bs to put up with out there no parking, unhealthy expensive eating, scalehouse terrorist, 4 wheeler dumb bots,receiver/pick up dictators brokers agitators, constant highway closure and a constant argument about actual mileage pay,there’s no more brother hood just cut throats and new jacks that park in fuel lanes, I never had an accident but refused to drive governed trucks and now big brother is watching un the truck with you like I’m not qualified when a surgeon has far less regulation nah I’ll pass big corporations squeezing out the O/O’s and control the industry its just not worth it to me.

    • I doubt the Democrats are solely to blame for this; we all know how nice the GOP would like to increase minimum wage for everyone to be able to earn a living wage…right? Nah!

      GOP has always wanted to stick it to the common guy to the benefit of their big business friends. You know how that has been. I would actually think the Dems have been trying all this time to help the little guy. All the best drivers who labour to get goods to the consumers. Big business must start waking up to reality.

    • Yup and that’s the party that put all the regulations i had my fingers crossed that Trump would roll back those regulations but the ATA had him in their pockets ,i got deisel in my veins and loved 18 on the ground running west bound still got my connex radio waiting for the day we gone ride again but I am not the one to sit at truck stops and receivers for pay once in that truck I’m at work but only get paid if wheels are turning, not seeing my family for weeks but ima go hangout somewhere for free, my time is money not to mention the endless hazards, its sooo not worth it.

  • I went to work for a company in Oct 1991 making 34 cents a mile. My husband went to work for a company in Sept 2013 making 34 cents per mile. That is 22 yrs. without a significant wage increase while drivers started to sit longer and longer waiting on shippers and receivers. More regulations, worse and worse accidents, and just out and out poor treatment by all the higher ups involved. Start with the governing agencies and work your way to the big carriers. There isn’t now nor has there ever been a driver shortage. Just a shortage of good employers and government agencies that can see it from the trucker’sview.

  • There a big shortage of excellence experienced truck drivers willing to drive under E -logs. If have a plan to insure all new truck drivers that agree to run at 1,500 hours as super single at a wage that goes up 3 dollars per day for every 100 hours driving or on duty with a limit of 8 driving and 10 hours on duty a day so starting at 160 per day at the end 210 per day then put on on local work at 21.60 per hour and going up another dollar for each additional 1000 hours for the next 3,000 hours and O T R drivers make 4.30 per hour more plus medical care and tempary housing if sick or injured if they do not have their own place that would go a long way. The other problem is private insurance companies in Ontario do look after sick or injured truck drivers so in my opinion we need to have gov or nonprofit insurance for new truck drivers for the first 3 years and for smaller fleets and owner ops. If we also fix parking and provide parking with a place for people like me with trench foot and other health care issues to stop at least 3 times per day many people who used to drive truck would come back in my opinion.

    • I can’t understand what you are saying. Please use punctuation and some sort of English Grammer. I might agree with you

      • Sorry I have a very bad phone that I am typing from at the homeless shelter where I am living along with other homeless former truck drivers.

    • Rather garbled. But you did not disappoint, you got around to housing for truck drivers in the end, if you choose to live in the truck accept the potential consequences why should we taxpayers pay for your housing?

  • At 19 I did it right, i went to Tractor Trailer school, became a Professional driver. After 11 years I was smart enough to know I had enough, it was the hours waiting on door # 8 with 4 other trucks booked at 0700 am. Then the times in long line ups with 35 dump trailers ahead and 42 behind me loading hwy salt. Years later the lost hours at the USA Canada border to obtain proper paperwork n permissions. I had enough ” Charity” time I could of earning a better pay so I joined the more than 378,000 Canadian drivers with a trator trailer licence to move to a new career. Now for the past 31 years I have driven part time only for companies that respect their drivers. So there is no shortage of drivers but an industry that in 42 years is slow to change the pay system so drivers can earn a fair living of work/ life balance for themselves and their loved ones.

  • Why all the North America truck drivers go on strike for one or two days and lets see what happend
    Trick drivers are under pay.

  • It’s how the company pays that will determine if there’s really shortage of drivers or not but this is my personal opinion.
    Second electronic logging discourage most of old school drivers
    Some decide to leave trucking or do local runs

  • To many regulations now no freedom of the roads anymore no proper truck stops anymore that used to serv good food such as proper meals can’t smoke or drink tea or coffee anymore camera’s watching when you are driving trackers on you twenty four seven when you pull over to stop if you are feeling tired immediately your mobile phone will ring and you answer it and they say why have you stopped while you are on a long journey and you reply that you stopped because you were feeling tired and they say do you need to see a doctor and you reply no I just need to stop for a short while just for a power nap but they insist that the load must be there as soon as possible not considering that you have been diverted on several occasions by road night closures extending your whole night shift to a much longer shift I have seen so many accidents through my life as a hgv 1 driver where you experience drivers crashing caused by driving fatigue as well as the job being long hours always and always coming under pressure by management and transport operators such as why are you late aswell as a lack of respect to you because I no as a truck driver that you always give a hundred percent in making those deadlines for your company but as I say what’s in it for you at the end of your shift or should I say at the end of your week nothing I feel a lack of respect and no acknowledge ment of appreciation or such as a thankyou driver for all your hardworking and effort in doing your best for the company on getting the loads and deadlines onetime aswell as taking risks going the extra mile also there is.nt enough parking spaces to park up at night time if you are a tramper driver they are also having ago at the driver and giving them a hardwire you always get the blame of the customer if you arrive late for your delivery in some cases you might be turned away or as to come back tomorrow sometimes you might feel that they don’t like you and you cannot used the canteen or toilet or beable to even get a drink sometimes you could be at a delivery or store or even a distribution centre waiting for hours before they even start to unload you aswell as they make you feel like second citizens and demoralised. I am sixty one years old now and have seen it all through my trucking career I have been in involved in heavy haulage such as roping and sheeting steel concrete fridges bulk tippers aswell as dangerous goods in tankers aswell as petrolium deliveries throughout my carrier and seen allot of changes in the job

    • Yes there is a shortage of drivers but let’s be fair and straight remembering how it was for us when we passed our test no one is going to employ you if you don’t have experience in driving hgv.s lorries so I say let’s go back to basics like the old style and give them a chance such as driver training and intuition and build up there confidence and help them as much as we can and get them moving and started so that they are safe on the roads with a loaded vehicle and confident teach them how to secure the loads and keep asafe distance from other vehicles and enjoy the job I won’t lie I was chuffed to bits when I passed my class one licence test but I started to learn when I got out on the road I got my first start with a company in Newmarket called John Marshall transport of eickambrook I and another driver went to load feed wheat from a farm not far from the depot the driver loaded up the bulker as I watched him and observed so I would be confident in loading the next load my self when we got back to the yard depot to the weighbridge we weighed the load of and the he said to me well there you go you maisewell go and deliver that load now. An I remembering saying to him where he replied London Earith and I said where’s tha and he said I don’t bloody no get a map and after that I was out all week and then I was learning the job with the help from other drivers giving me sound advice so therfore some good things came out for me over the years I just would like to see respect come back into the job again and everyone unite again and stick together again

  • WOW, I must have entered the web version of a truckstop liar table. Look at all the wining and crying going on here. Look at all the answers to the world’s problems!!! The government over regulates me so I can’t cheat, the big companies pay too little, they should try driving, the four wheelers can’t drive and so on. WAH WAH WAH


    The big companies make up a small per percentage of the trucks on the road, they are not to blame. The government will always add regulations to attempt to improve things in their eyes, right or wrong, it will continue to happen. If you don’t like the job or pay, find a new carreer and stop crying. There are plenty of good companies who treat their drivers right and pay good money. Of course you have to be willing to work for your pay. Watching how unprofessional a lot of drivers are today, should never hear complaints about cars.

    As for the clowns that want to park all trucks for a few days, try thinking that through before making silly statements like that. That will serve to anger the public, not get them on your side. It will annoy the government who will likely give you more regulations that you don’t want. Not to mention the very negative press it will bring to your cause, especially when they find cases of people not getting needed medicine and food.

    If you truly want to improve your situation, first take a good long hard look in the mirror. If you can be honest with yourself, most will be staring at the real problem. If there is an issue with your company, go have a polite talk with your boss about it. You might be surprised how willing a lot of bosses are to work with you if you are a good employee and polite. Do the extra things to prove your value to the company. Little things like greasing your truck every week will prove your value to the boss. Try that instead of wining!!!!

    For the record, I have over 30 years as a professional driver. I do a lot of the maintenance on my truck myself. I’m not afraid to get dirty to earn my pay. I can walk into my bosses office anytime and he will always make time to talk to me. I make well over 100K as a company driver and take 8 to 9 weeks off every year. Try a new approach people.

    As for the driver shortage, it is very real. Regardless of how many people hold a license, if they decided they don’t like the industry and have moved on, they really don’t count as available drivers as they are not going to take a driving job. Small companies have trouble filling their trucks as much as large companies do. They have the work, but can’t find the drivers. I have nothing against OOIDA, but their twist on reality is no better than that of the ATA, just a different twist to suit their agenda.

    Finally, be safe and professional. Set yourself apart from the rest. Do the right things to ensure you get home safely every time you go to work.

    • Hey Greg!
      What company do you work for and in what capacity?
      I would truly love to know?
      Are you paid overtime. Are you paid for each and every hour that you are with the equipment owned by someone else but that you are responsible for each and every hour you have it?
      As you said “for the record”, I have 40 years of experience. During this time I have seen the industry change dramatically. I believe that safety should be front and centre. However, companies still push the drivers like we are some kind of animal, inferior to everyone in the office, bitching if a driver even stops for a lunch or washroom break. Take your blinders off and look at the industry as a whole. While you may work for a truly rare and exceptional company and may be one of their high milers, many other companies do not operate that way or pay so well. Some even play with dispatch to feed certain drivers. Best wishes and safe driving,

      • Hi Still Hopeful,
        First I will say that my blinders are off. I have seen many changes as well since I have been in the industry. I take no offense in that remark though. I know most companies do not pay their drivers as well as I am paid . I also know some companies actually pay better. I am paid by percentage of what the truck makes plus extra for doing maintenance and washing the truck and extra work I do. Every job has different pay. Some not worth getting up for and some pay unbelievable amount. Most are somewhere in between and good over all. I know most companies have their pets that are fed best work, but I can assure you, I am not that driver at my company. I feel respected and treated well, but not the pet by any means.

        My point was that MOST drivers want everything handed to them on a silver platter and are not willing to earn it. I see it everyday. Even where I work, there are guys that can’t stop whining about everything. It is not always the company or industry that is the problem. Maybe I was just raised differently where you work for your pay and know at the end of the week you earned it. Not be afraid of your boss, but look at him/her as a coworker you can approach. Personally, I would not work for someone who treats me like dirt. I don’t cry about it, I find better. Unlike all these drivers that want to be “THANKED” for everything they do, I consider myself thanked every 2 weeks when I get paid.

        My advise to anybody looking for a job like mine OR better is simple. Forget long haul, even with today’s good rates, it’s not where the best money is. I know this from many years of doing that work. Find companies that work in higher paying niche markets. Be prepared to work harder and get dirty and earn the higher pay for doing what most drivers won’t do. Be polite with office and your boss. Prove your value to them and they will do everything they can to keep you. It’s pretty simple. There are many niche markets all over the continent. I also avoid large companies as I personally like the smaller companies with a family attitude. I would also avoid every company offering a hire bonus. In my humble opinion, any company that needs to offer a hire bonus to woo you to them, is a company that has not figured out how to treat their driver’s. They will likely prove it to you before you last long enough to get that bonus too.

        Finally, as for the company I work for, I am not going to put that info on here. But if the moderator reading this message before posting it is willing to send you AND ONLY you my email, I will be happy to share that info with you. I don’t want everyone bugging me for that info as the company is not big enough to hire everybody. I also don’t personally recommend anyone that I don’t personally know and know can do the job. I have only personally recommended 1 driver to my boss in the several years I have worked here. He was offered a job, but due to his situation, was unable to take it at the time.

        Cheers and stay safe!!

        • Hi bud!
          I didn’t really, and still don’t for that matter, want to know what company you drive for. Your reply makes clearer your pay. You said your paid percentage. Ok, whatever percent you get times zero, what you make for running empty, is zero. Kind of brings the rate down now. Good point is your getting paid for the extra work you do such as maintenance, something I personally wouldn’t do on someone else’s equipment, has to do with the liability issues if something screws up, and truck washes. These things you never mentioned in your original post. It all sounded to rosey and cheerleader is. I do agree that there are some drivers that think that they should be handed things. They want others to do there jobs for them as well. For them, I have no time to even share my knowledge with them. Didn’t mean to offend and hope I didn’t

  • The article is correct. So to are some of the comments. Instead of attacking each other and their opinions, perhaps all stake holders should open their ears and minds and truly listen to what’s being said.
    Truth. There is a perceived driver shortage.
    Truth. The greatest percentage of this is self inflicted by the industry that is crying out.
    Truth. The greatest reason is the way that drivers are not only treated, but compensated. Add to that, decreasing services for drivers, an increase in just on time freight, an increase of both regulations and responsibilities heaped on the drivers. Add to the mix an increase in poorly trained new drivers.
    Fact. The great majority of companies that are out there treat their drivers as just another number. Sure there are places that say welcome to the our family and we have an open door policy, but realize this, it’s their family not yours.
    Fact. In the past 40 years, while the cost of living has gone through the roof, wages for a highway drivers have NOT even doubled. Owners drive new Audis, Porches, or whatever but can’t seem to pay their employees a decent wage. Go figure.
    Fact. There are a lot of senior seasoned drivers who have simply had enough and, although it’s a job that they love and have held out hope of it improving for years, have finally said enough is enough and have stopped driving.
    Fact. While governments continue to talk about adding infrastructure facilities for drivers, they have yet to appear in numbers of any significance to help the parking situation, all the while true truck stop continue to fall by the wayside in favour of in and out establishments.
    Fact. While governments have introduced programs to mentor new drivers, there is a plethora of new drivers coming through driver mills untrained and only learning what they need to pass the road test.
    Fact. Some of these individuals cannot read, write, or speak English. In a continent where the road signs are predominantly in English the governments allow this to happen. Where it used to be a Privilege to hold a drivers license, now seems to have been deemed a Right.
    Fact. Collisions both in parking areas and on our roadways involving large commercial vehicles have now skyrocketed and are a daily occurrence due mostly in part from poorly trained drivers.
    Truth. Of these instances, as well, as others, there are two common factors. The first is trucking companies that pushed for deregulation in every facet of the industry, are the ones creating, not only their own problems, but also the false narrative to go along with it. He second is that the various levels of governments are complicit with he industry. They listen to them and coddle them. The governments don’t even enforce their own laws. When is the last time you heard, in Ontario, of the Labour Board going into a company to see if a company is compliant with those laws such as paying overtime.
    Truth. We the drivers bear the greatest blame and shame. We put up with it. Sure we bitch about and we hope things will get better, but we put up with it. Those of us who have lost hope have left the career they love.

    • A lot of good points!!! I agree with most of what you said, but I also am a firm believer in the fact that drivers as a whole need to be more willing to help themselves and learn to be respectful drivers on the road. Be willing to talk to their bosses in an honest, polite and respectful way with their issues. But above all, when on the road, be professional, no matter what any driver in a car or truck does, be professional!!!! You can’t control them or their bad habits, but you CAN control your driving habits.

      Be safe everyone, you’re family wants you home safe to see you as much as you want to get home to your family.

  • No one gives a new truck driver opportunity
    Since they dont have experience
    And how will they obtain if they can’t get the job

    • Sir, I disagree with you. Each and everyone of us on the road has a start date. The day we first get behind the wheel on our own. Companies still offer jobs to freshly minted drivers, especially those who seem to have enough on the ball to compensate for no experience. Sometimes it comes down to how one carries themselves in an interview or simply asking questions and demonstrating a willingness to learn.
      Good luck

  • Excellent points and exactly why i got out of the industry after 20 years. They’re creating their own driver shortage by pushing all the experienced guys out with 20 year old rates and terrible work conditions.

    • Hi Craig.
      Nice to see that, even though you left the industry, your heart hasn’t. For if it did you wouldn’t still be reading these articles.
      The problems within the industry are many. My father drove a dynamite truck, my grandfather had a fleet of milk trucks. Back about 60 years ago, the rule of thumb, as was told to me, was everyone basically charged the same per mile as what it cost for a gallon of fuel, and everyone made money. Everyone, including company drivers. Somewhere along the line, the business model of cutting the rates over excellence of service took hold. That’s only been exasperated by the influx of so many new carriers. Along with their cheaper rates comes lower wages and less maintenance. Less maintenance means less safety. It has been my observation over the years that when a company gets themselves into financial difficulties the first 3 things to go out the window are maintenance, safety and drivers wages. Right behind the wages going is the respect for the very people that they rely on, the drivers. None of these companies even seem to think that they are doing anything wrong, that the problem is with everyone else. These are, for the most part, the same companies one sees, continually advertising for drivers. Again, and I’ll assume that you still have your commercial license, there is no real shortage of drivers. It’s a myth. The shortage is with the number of drivers who are willing to continue to be abused in an industry that shows no hope of being fixed any time soon.

  • I feel that the only driver shortage that exist is the one being created. I have personally experienced the pain of try to get back in my truck after having to take a few years off do too personal reason. The first obstacle is if your truck not a 2000 or newer no one will hire you even if your truck can run ELD. Then there’s the biggest crock of bull I have experienced after safe driving for over 21 years before I took my personal leave the only way to get back to driving I have to have 1 year verifiable driving in the last 3years what BS it’s like being punish for doing the right thing by your family for the trucking industry to take a dump on experience safe drivers and the way they plan on fixing it is lowering the age to get CDL. #whatajoke Older drivers are being pushed out of the industry they love.