Truck Driver Shortage Study Reveals Startling Statistics

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It’s no secret that the trucking industry is working through its greatest driver shortages in history. For the past 15 years, the number of needed drivers across the industry has ballooned from 20,000 in 2005 to nearly 60,000 today. 

As we’ve documented in the past, the reasons for the shortage are varied, but some of the most significant among those is workforce demographics, availability of jobs that don’t require the worker to be away from home much of the time and regulations. 

The American Truck Associations recently took a very close look at the current driver shortage in order to better understand it and to attempt to help rectify it. They released a detailed report and we’ve decided to take some time to boil down the key points for our readers. Here are several key takeaways from the report. 

Workforce demographics 

According to the ATA and surveys its conducted, the current age of drivers behind the wheel of Class 8 tractor-trailer drivers is 46 years old. That’s nearly 4 years older than the average age of American workers in all other fields. Naturally, an older workforce means more workers retiring at an accelerated rate. 

The study also found that women continue to avoid the trucking industry. Currently, only 6.6 percent of drivers are women. That’s up from 4.5 percent in 2001. On a positive note, the number of minority drivers is seeing a large increase. Today, minorities make up 40.4 percent of drivers. That’s up a full 13 percentage points in the past 18 years. 

Trucking Lifestyle

Another main reason the trucking industry is having trouble attracting new drivers is the lifestyle the job creates. When just beginning in the field, most drivers are subjected to weeks at a time working on the road. 

While most younger people might not mind being away from home, those with families and family obligations shy away from this type of lifestyle. According to the study, DRIVE Safe Act could help in this regard. The Act, which is currently before Congress, would allow drivers under the age of 21 to attain Commercial Drivers Licenses. 

For drivers under 21, working on the road could actually be seen as a benefit, allowing them to see the country without the pull of family life at home. 

Coupled with the trucking lifestyle not being attractive to younger workers, the availability of jobs in other industries is also hurting hiring. During the economic recession of 2008-09, the trucking industry was one of the few who continued to hire. However, now that the economy has improved, jobs are plentiful, making the trucking industry a less attractive opportunity. 


New regulations are also impacting driver shortage. Changes to hours of service, for example, reduce productivity. A reduction in productivity means the need for more drivers to move the same amount of freight. 

How to solve the problem

In addition to taking a deeper look into the causes of the current driver shortage, the ATA study also discussed possible solutions. Perhaps the biggest positive change would be an increase in driver pay. According to the report:

“Most fleets instituted large pay increases in 2018 as the driver shortage hit an all-time high. Many fleets also instituted guaranteed minimum weekly pay so that the drivers would have a more consistent paycheck. Sign-on bonuses are used throughout the industry as competition for drivers heats up. Expect Driver pay to continue to rise as long as the driver shortage continues.” 

More at-home time for drivers is another way to help decrease the driver shortage, the study revealed. As previously mentioned, extended time spans away from home keep many younger workers from entering the driver workforce. However, the good news is that the amount of regional logistics hubs is making near-home opportunities more plentiful. 

As stated, lowering the age for CDLs could have a large impact on adding more drivers to the workforce. Currently, only those over the age of 21 can receive a CDL. Much of the reason behind this has been a concern for safety. However, as the study notes, technology can allow for reductions in those concerns. The DRIVE Safe Acts requires 240 hours of behind-the-wheel training in trucks with active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing video capture and governed speed pedals at 65 mph. 

Finally, perhaps the biggest remaining solution is improved treatment of drivers and wait times along the supply chain. It’s no secret that truck drivers often receive poor treatment along the supply chain. Problems include restricted access to bathroom facilities and being kept waiting for hours to load or unload. Encouraging better treatment of drivers along the supply chain will reduce driver frustration and will increase productivity along the way. 

By the numbers

  • The ATA study also revealed some other interesting numbers, including:
  • If current trends hold, the driver shortage could reach 160,000 by the year 2028.
  • In the next 10 years, the trucking industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers to keep pace with retirements and current rates of attrition. 

About 44 percent of fleets offering a sign-on bonus for new hires with an average of $2,000 paid out per bonus. 

MDS Trucking V is Always Hiring

At MDS Trucking V, we pride ourselves in being one of the nation’s largest dry and specialized freight transportation service companies. As freight demands in the U.S. continue to increase, we are always looking for new drivers to join our team. We operate in all 48 continental states and offer employment to owner-operators and company drivers without their own trucks.

For company drivers without a vehicle, we offer weekly and yearly lease programs for our company trucks and others through Penske and Ryder. No credit check is required to lease from our offering of trucks. We only take 12 percent of the load’s gross amount, allowing you to keep the rest. You also receive rate confirmations from dispatch.

Owner-operators receive a $5,000+ average in weekly settlements along with a sign-on bonus. We offer assistance with base plates and bonuses for referrals. Other benefits include free parking (based on availability), free IFTA filing and payments, fuel cards, fuel discounts, and rider policy. Owner-operators must have a CDL-A license and two years of driving experience.

MDS Trucking V depends on its drivers for success and growth in the freight industry, which is why we only hire the best drivers available. If you are able to pass a pre-employment screening and meet these qualifications, please complete our online application. You will not regret working for one of the best transportation logistics companies in the U.S. We look forward to receiving your application.