Trucking may have to double hiring by 2018 to offset productivity losses: FTR

The constricting effects of US regulations on trucking productivity could leave the industry having to hire twice as many drivers by 2018 as it does today, just to offset productivity losses. But Noel Perry, senior consultant with FTR, said that wasn’t always the case.

From the early years of over-the-road trucking in the 1930s right through to the mid-90s, government regulations and policy actually increased trucking’s productivity by 150%. The hours-of-service restrictions introduced in 2004 marked the reversal, setting the tone for the regulations that have followed, which have required carriers to accomplish more with less.

During its State of Freight Webinar June 12, FTR said it is currently monitoring 21 regulations the US has on the books, which could each further restrict trucking productivity. Six have the potential to reduce the hiring pool (ie. CSA, health regulations, drug and alcohol database); 10 will increase turnover or make hiring less productive (ie. training, minimum insurance); and 10 will reduce operating productivity (ie. speed limiters, hours-of-service).

If all the regulations are enacted as planned, the trucking industry could have to double its hiring efforts by 2018, Perry noted.

“We are asking the industry to increase the number of people it hires by about double, so this is a very big deal. Even if our quantification is off by 30%, it doesn’t change the conclusion,” Perry said.

Historically, Perry noted, the trucking industry has been unable to quickly ramp up its hiring when spikes in demand have occurred, resulting in a shortage of trucking capacity.

When the proposed regulations – including the mandatory use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) – come into force later this decade, Perry said “It will be an unprecedented assault on the hiring capability of the industry.”

This will also strain the trucking industry’s ability to provide capacity, he noted.

With capacity utilization likely to remain in the 98-99% range, Perry said any short-term shocks (such as the extreme weather seen this past winter) will have an immediate impact on trucking supply.

If the economy strengthens as the impending regulations come into effect, Perry warned the industry may have trouble meeting capacity demands. If a recession occurs, the choking effect caused by the onset of new regulations may be abated temporarily.

FTR hosts regular Webinars on the State of Freight. To find out more, visit


James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Way back in the late 90’s right on the front page of this newspaper in big bold letters by @ least 2015 we would be short by @ least 100,000 drivers, &, thousands of skilled trades, especially mechanics, A,&,G,&, van. There were programs set up for a few years, for the mech. But they fell through, just like HoS, the incentives fell through, by the government,&, the industry, now this. There’s, apprenticeship programs for new drivers, by the old boys, but you”ve got to have your ticket first, how about half &, half, too get your ti cket at a reputable school it’s too much for a student / new drivers too afford. It’s only been a few years of late that females have been in demand, if that started years ago this problem wouldn’t have happen. I could go but I won’t one of the problems of the industry, is the old school rep if that rep could go you would get more drivers

  • There will only be shortage as the dot and the police force drivers to get other jobs. Other jobs pay better than driving a truck today

  • This is almost laughable now. The pat yourself on the back rubber chicken crowd the police the government MADD all chirping about fatigue it boarders on pathetic now.
    The truckload carriers anything for a buck cash flow volume crowd only worry about the bottom line. They will never go after a shipper for demurrage on trailers or detention rate increases to hold a driver because of their inefficency too afraid of the next cut rate outfit stealing the freight. The government at all levels are the worst. Never spent a minit in the industry nor have their researchers or consultants but they have all the answers. Municipal and regional govt reduce restrict or downright ban truck access so finding a parking place to sleep or eat or find service or parts. Provincial govt does not plan for or build maintain or sign for rest areas and what few there are are full of campers to cheap to pay campground fees no new ones on the horizon either actually the opposite they are closing or restricting access to the existing ones the federal govt keeps coming up with more restrive hos rules directed only at the driver as usual instead of legislating changes to the actual problems. You in this industry are the most shortsighted crowd yet running around putting bandaids on heartattacks more foreign workers will only lead us to a less safe hwy system lower public safety and public perception. More trash less courtesy less skill and a very bleak future.
    You will not in the next five years at the current rate of travel you won’t be recruiting anyone to drive trucks with over the top interfering technology govt restrictions poor conditions and attitudes minimum wages for a 70 hour week no achievable bonus structures the list goes on and on. After fourty five years in this industry I am glad to be at the end of the trail because if I was starting out what would I have to look forward to. You pinheads in govt and enforcement and management have reduced us to third world living conditions poor Hwys unsafe work environments . But the bottom line and freight volumes still looking good right up to the point when no one is there to take your bull and turn the key

  • Truck driver wages need to go up and we need to able to get more points against our driver permit and still have a job