Special Report: Keeping Businesses Moving amidst the driver shortage

This is a compilation of published posts summarizing key issues around the truck driver shortage and changes the transportation industry is making to address the ongoing problem.



Every day, millions of truck drivers take to the road to make sure that they are delivering the goods consumers need.

Professional truck drivers in the United States are delivering essential goods to communities all over the country.

Drivers deliver supplies to hospitals and medical clinics, they deliver food to our grocery store shelves, building

supplies to construction sites, raw materials to manufacturers and fuel to our gas stations to keep the nation moving.

There were over 3.1 million professional drivers in the U.S. in 2014 1. But that is not enough.

The question is no longer if or even when will the driver shortage affect companies, but what are companies doing

about it. During the past year, the driver shortage has led to dramatic capacity constraints, a nearly 100% active

truck utilization and an escalating driver turnover rate. With more than 80 percent of the United States 2 receiving

its goods solely from the trucking industry, the driver shortage has forced all companies who

transport goods to re-evaluate their plans to recruit, train and retain drivers.


Keeping Businesses Moving amidst the driver shortage  The reality: The driver shortage is already here.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the trucking industry is short 30,000 professional drivers, and the

number is expected to escalate to 330,000 by 2020. Furthermore, 90% of transportation carriers report they cannot find

enough drivers to meet their requirements. Experts predict the demand for commercial truck drivers to grow by 21 percent

through 2020. According to a survey by National Retail Systems (NRS), the driver shortage is the biggest concern in the trucking

industry. Companies are beginning to focus on key areas to help mitigate the driver shortage and make sure their businesses

aren’t put in park at the loading docks.  Research shows an aging workforce and not enough new drivers entering the profession

are fueling the driver shortage. Nearly 51% of drivers are over the age of 45 and 17 % are over the age of 55. Also, fewer than

11,500 people are trained to be drivers every year 3. The bottom line is the trucking industry is losing drivers to retirement with

not nearly enough young drivers entering the workforce to replace them.  “Tightening capacity is an issue across the nation.

Historically, when the industry has experienced capacity constraints we were able to purchase or obtain the extra capacity. Right

now though, there is no extra capacity to purchase and that means shippers have to pay more than their competitors or find the

perfect match between a carrier that has needs in the exact lane the freight is moving.”

– Paul Boothe,  Ryder Director of Transportation Management,  Inbound Logistics magazine, September 2014



“Rapid Transformation: The modern role of a driver”

The life of a modern driver is much more than just sitting behind the wheel driving thousands of miles each year. A typical day

for a professional driver can include an average of 10 stops, lifting hundreds of packages, rotating inventory, stocking

shelves,handling freight, completing delivery paperwork, providing excellent customer service and, of course, driving a

truck.Having a driver who can complete all these tasks on a daily basis is key to maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty

for companies across many sectors. Unfortunately, the driver turnover rate continues to increase, and driver retention has

become one of the biggest challenges in the industry. It is estimated that two-thirds of the drivers who are leaving their positions

are doing so voluntarily 4.  An NRS survey shows one of the top reasons truck drivers  switch jobs is to increase their time at

home. Some companies promise predictable home time to their drivers as an employee benefit. Other enhanced driver benefit

options which companies are exploring include changes to vacation policies and providing a career development path, including

the ability to transition into other positions at the company. Drivers receive defined expectations and objectives, and are

recognized for attaining said goals. Several companies also announced they are increasing pay for drivers in 2015.

Safety is another priority for both drivers and companies. Trucking regulations continue to grow more stringent from Hours of

Service (HOS) to safety guidelines meant to keep both drivers and communities safe. Additional efforts have been made

to keep drivers even safer with enhanced cab designs for women drivers to more frequent inspections on all equipment.

Finally, respect is a facet drivers are looking for from their employers. Modern drivers expect increased engagement levels

with their employers, and want to feel like they are a part of the company they are working for and that they have a say in their

work environment.


“Staying ahead of the driver shortage”

 Realizing the long-term complexities and implications of the driver shortage, companies are getting more creative and

thinking more strategically about how they manage deliveries, their fleets and their drivers. Learning from and applying best

practices across industries can also help companies adapt. For example, the driver shortage is not as magnified in the

automotive industry as it is in other sectors since much of that industry uses a dedicated transportation model for Just-In-Time

deliveries to assembly line side. This shuttle model provides drivers with regular, predictable routes and as a result, regular daily

hours of service.  In the retail industry, the shortage is forcing supply chains to adapt the manner in which they operate to have

available drivers and capacity for peak delivery times. One way retailers are re-assessing their network is by introducing more

crossdocking, whereby products reach the customer faster because freight is moved from one vehicle to another with minimal or

no warehousing. The advantages of cross docking aren’t limited to just reducing material handling, they also extend to reducing

standing inventory, operating costs, storage space requirements, distribution costs and transit times to move products from

production to customers. Cross-docking also allows drivers to make deliveries more efficiently by minimizing driver wait times

and streamlining the loading process.

• Employment in the trucking industry is equal to 6.9 million. That’s one of every 16 people working in the U.S.

• Professional truck drivers drove over 421.3 billion miles in 2011, more than double 25 years ago.

• Most individual long-haul drivers average from 100,000 to 110,000 miles driving per year.

• There are 2.3 million class 8 trucks on the road in the U.S. and 11.7 million commercial trailers were registered in 2013.

• Nearly every good consumed in the U.S. is put on a truck at some point.

• Over 26 million trucks haul freight in the United States.

• Trucks have overall crash rates less than half that of other vehicles.

• More than 80% of U.S. communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of their goods and commodities.

• The average daily run for an over-the-road driver isnearly 500 miles.

Source: American Trucking Associations  Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4American Trucking Associations


Driver Shortage Special Report

“How the shortage affects consumers”

As the trucking industry is working to keep its wheels turning,

businesses are trying to make sure food products don’t spoil,

store shelves are stocked and necessary parts are making it to

the assembly line. Without a reliable pool of drivers, companies

risk not having their fastest selling items in stock. This can

lead to unsatisfied customers, fewer sales and a drop in

repeat shoppers.

In 2013, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported trucks

moved more than 92 percent of prepared foods, including dairy

products and prepared fruit, vegetable and nut products. In

an industry where on-time deliveries are crucial, the on-going

truck driver shortage is causing even more challenges for food

manufacturers, distributors, grocers and other companies

playing a role in the food supply chain. This puts more pressure

on companies to have reliable drivers, as a delay in food

deliveries increases the risk of spoilage, and could ultimately

result in financial losses.

The healthcare industry relies on drivers for critical deliveries

of medical devices such as pacemakers or dialysis machines,

medical equipment, medications and other items critical to the

health and treatment of patients across the country.

3 | Driver Shortage Special Report

Recruiting, training and retaining drivers

It is imperative that companies develop strong programs

focused on recruiting, training and retaining drivers to ensure

reliable on-time delivery of products and to provide customers

with the great service they expect. An employer’s focus needs

to be on recruiting from a robust talent pool, an increased

investment in driver training, and a commitment to

retaining drivers.

Implementing a robust recruitment program can have a twofold

benefit – allowing companies to fill current open positions

while also building a talent pool for the future. When recruiting,

employers need to know where to find high quality candidates,

often in places and roles that were not traditionally viewed as a

source of driver talent.

When recruiting, partnerships with organizations can lead to

a specialized talent pool. One of these groups is Hiring our

Heroes, an organization that assists veterans and transitioning

service members to find employment. Veterans possess many

of the invaluable skills and qualities that are essential to be

drivers. Through specialized training, recruits can become key

employees in the trucking industry.

A second organization, Women in Trucking, is promoting the

truck driving profession to women. Through a partnership with

this organization, trucking companies are focusing on positively

changing the ergonomics of their trucks to recruit women into

the driver’s seat. Adding women to the driver pool is not just

something to be done simply to fill a need; it is something that

should be done because there is an opportunity to utilize

under-represented potential.

As drivers, women take fewer risks, according to Ron Kipling,

author of “Safety for the Long Haul.” “Trucking company

executives often tell me that women are better at completing

their paperwork and often treat their equipment better than

their male counterparts. Regarding communication, women are

often viewed as being better with customers as well.”

Another place to look is the warehouse. It’s possible a strong

employee who knows the company, customers and products

may want to become a driver. Employers also need to be specific

about the requirements involved with being a driver. Clearly

communicating job descriptions and expectations to candidates

will also increase your recruitment effectiveness. The risk and

cost is high when a company hires the wrong driver, as there can

be safety issues, unsatisfied customers and lower productivity.

A crucial factor to lower the impact of the driver shortage is

to invest in a comprehensive training program. One of the

most effective ways to improve fleet safety, minimize crashes

and improve customer satisfaction is to consistently and

continuously train drivers on key job functions. With constant

changes to federal guidelines and rising customer expectations,

well-trained drivers are able to handle the daily challenges of

delivering goods safely and on time. In the big picture, ongoing

training is a small investment that delivers big benefits for

companies – it increases productivity and is a vital component

to the retention of drivers, demonstrating the company’s

commitment to their professional development.

Involving drivers in solving the challenges they face in their

daily roles is another opportunity for engaging and retaining

drivers. Having drivers participate in safety committees and

assisting with route engineering are but a few examples.

Driver Shortage Special Report | 4


Get in the driver’s seat of your business

With more than 6,000 drivers across North America, Ryder

is leading the charge on developing best-in-class driver

programs, as part of its overall dedicated transportation

solution. William P. Townsend, Group Director of Labor

Strategy, highlighted Ryder’s unique view of managing drivers

in an August 2014 Wall Street Journal article stating, “Drivers

are a precious resource companies are trying to attract and

retain. Once recruited, the next step is to keep them happy

and loyal.”

The driver shortage is not a trend; it is the new normal for

the trucking industry. For companies to keep their businesses

moving, products on shelves and customers coming through

the doors, they need to implement a plan to stay ahead of the

driver shortage, developing new programs and enhancing

work conditions for their driver employees. A strategy

focused on recruiting and retaining drivers through training,

development and a commitment to them will keep your

business on the road during the driver shortage.

To read more about the driver shortage and other issues

affecting the trucking industry today, visit the Ryder Exchange

Blog at exchange.ryder.com.

-Ellen Voie,

founder, Women in Trucking organization

“Companies are becoming more aggressive in their

efforts to recruit female drivers because of the benefits

women bring, not just as drivers filling a need, but

as well qualified employees who bring a different

perspective to the job. As trucks become more

driver-friendly and the freight handling is minimized,

the opportunity to become a professional driver

extends beyond those who are big, muscular, and

mechanically minded. The length of haul is getting

shorter and time at home is viewed as crucial in

attracting and retaining drivers. Adding women to

the driver pool is not just something we should do

to fill a need; it’s something we should be doing

because we have an opportunity to utilize underrepresented


Driver Shortage Special Report | 6


Ryder and the Ryder logo are registered trademarks of Ryder System, Inc.

© 2015 Ryder System, Inc. Ever better is a trademark of Ryder System, Inc.

PT001701 050415