In today’s world, it is not uncommon for any one of us to order an item online and have it arrive at a store or our homes. We rarely stop to think about the logistics concerning the transportation of those goods throughout the country. There is a growing concern in the marketplace that the increase of shipped goods is growing at a rate that trucking companies cannot conceivably keep up with. According to Bloomberg, “The trucking industry is unique because it’s the lifeblood of moving goods around the country, representing 70 percent of the nation’s freight volume by weight. Without enough trucks and drivers on the road, some combination of things is going to happen: Shipments will be delayed, and producers will have to pay higher prices to get goods to market.” For example, if you try to order a car service like Uber on New Year’s Eve or during a peak hour, your rate will be exponentially higher than the normal rate. According to the American Trucking Association, “…driver shortfall could reach 50,000 positions by the end of this year and if trends hold, will grow to more than 175,000 by 2026.”
The Bloomberg article does not provide a positive outlook on the situation, “There’s no reason to think the labor situation in the trucking industry should get better any time soon. Everyone in business and the technology sectors is talking about a future of self-driving trucks — hardly giving prospective workers the incentive to commit to multi-week classes to attain a commercial driver’s license for an industry that might be going away. In the short term, truckers must switch from logging their hours on paper to doing it electronically by April 1 or face penalties, which may reduce driver capacity by no longer allowing drivers to fudge their hours on paper to stay on the road longer.”
It would seem as if a collision course is imminent as our expectation of delivered goods clash with the harsh reality of a lean driver market. It will be interesting to watch companies become more creative with their driver incentives and hiring practices.