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Solving the Driver Shortage with Younger Drivers

Consumers and drivers alike are already feeling the effects of the driver shortage problem. As customers and clients continue to expect faster deliveries, drivers are struggling to keep up with the demands. To quantify the problem, the American Trucking Association (ATA) reported a driver shortage of over 36,000 in 2016. They expect that number to almost double for 2018, falling short by 63,000 drivers. If things continue on the same trajectory, this shortage could reach 174,000 drivers by 2026.

Under-21 Military CDL Pilot Program

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is asking for public comment on a proposal to allow drivers under the age of 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) so long as they have military experience.  FMCSA first sought comment on such a program back in August of 2016. Now, as part of the FAST Act, FMCSA will study safety data regarding this demographic to see if younger drivers with military experience can help ease the driver shortage while maintaining safety standards.

The DRIVE-Safe Act

While interstate drivers must be 21 or older, adults 18-21 can drive commercial vehicles for intrastate hauls in numerous states. Because these young drivers have the necessary skills to operate commercial vehicles, many within the trucking industry are encouraging Congress to consider opening interstate driving to younger drivers. The proposed legislation, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE-Safe act), details a plan to develop existing skills while providing rigorous safety training for young CMV drivers.

Focusing on Retention

The biggest hurdle to solving the driver shortage problem is improving retention rates. Fleets are able to attract drivers, but they have significant problems retaining them. This is in large part because trucking is exempt from federal standards like minimum wage and overtime pay. Most fleets pay drivers per the mile rather than by the hour, which can result in an 80-hour workweek just to pull in an average of $53,000 annually.

If the trucking industry wants to reduce the driver shortage, they need to look at improving the career outlook in addition to boosting qualified applicant numbers. To learn more about improving driver retention rates while maintaining a safe fleet, contact the experts at Encompass Risk Solutions.

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Ken Lacey

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