Trucker Shortage: Why America Lacks Truck Drivers

Despite efforts to make truck driving a more appealing job, long-haul truck drivers are still hard to find these days. Companies are trying to attract more people to join the industry by raising the salary and targeting women and millennials. The trucker shortage dates back a quarter century, and experts predict that high turnover rates and baby boomers entering retirement age may exacerbate the problem.

The lack of truck drivers leads to various debilitating results, including obstruction in the global export industry and national supply chain and ballooned shipping rates. Why are people turning down jobs in the trucking industry?

Here are two reasons.

Occupational Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites trucking as one of the most dangerous industries. In 2017, truckers experienced that most fatalities compared to other occupations, accounting for 11 percent of the total worker deaths. More than 75 percent of the severely injured truckers were involved in transportation incidents. Semi-trailer and heavy truck drivers also had the third highest rate of nonfatal injury and illness out of all occupations.

According to OSHA, the most common minor injuries among truckers are bruises, cuts and lacerations, fractures, multiple traumatic injuries, soreness and pain, and strains and sprains, which account for 50 percent of the total.

Drivers aren’t only exposed to dangers while on the road, they’re still at risk even as they’ve reached their destinations. Truckers are exposed to crushed-between, struck-by, and other safety hazards in construction sites, docks, and warehouses.

Truck drivers are also at risk of auto accidents caused by mechanical malfunctions. Both the OSHA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established guidelines for vehicle maintenance. The OSHA set compliance standards for specific parts and accessories necessary for safe operation. Every carrier and driver must comply with the requirements before operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Companies should regularly perform tire, brake system, engine, and turbocharger repairs and maintenance to keep their vehicles running smoothly.

Loneliness, Isolation, and Mental Health Issues

driving a truck

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, which means they are often away from home at weeks or months at a time. An unbalanced personal life is common among long-haul drivers, and this has a major impact on their disposition.

Loneliness tops the list of mental health concerns truck drivers experience. Almost a third of long-haul drivers admit that being alone all day and away from their loved ones is a serious issue affecting their mental health.

This is a major flaw in the industry, especially since researchers have long proven that healthy relationships are significant influencers of a long and happy life – even more important than socioeconomic status, income, IQ, and traditional health indicators, like cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, among others.

Studies link poor personal relationships to increased risks of stroke, dementia, cardiovascular problems, and even common colds.

Fortunately, driver incomes and freight rates have soared recently, making their jobs more bearable. But even in the 1970s, which many consider as the golden age of trucking, the lack of a personal life was already an integral aspect of the occupation.

These are only two of the reasons people are reluctant to join the trucking industry. Companies and organizations must devise solutions to make the job safer and less aggravating to attract more workers.

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