Linxup Blog

5 Ways to Manage the Fleet Driver Shortage

By Dean Cusumano Back to Home on May 30, 2017
driver shortage

Truck driver shortages have been reported since the 1980s, but as a result of industry growth and an aging workforce, driver deficits have become increasingly widespread and problematic for trucking fleets in recent years. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), in 2015 the shortage left the trucking industry in need of nearly 48,000 qualified drivers. This gap is on pace to grow at a rate of over 10,000 drivers per year, reaching as high as 175,000 drivers by 2024.

The ATA projects that the trucking industry will need to hire 89,000 new drivers per year to meet the increasing demand, but a variety of factors could prevent businesses from connecting with new hires. These include:

  • Poor qualifications. Eighty-eight percent of carriers reported that they received a healthy number of applications, but that most applicants were not adequately qualified for the position.
  • A less diverse driver pool. According to the ATA report, women make up 47 percent of all U.S. workers, but only between 4.5 and 6 percent of the truck driving workforce since 2000.

  • A difficult lifestyle. Long hours and time away from home are two common complaints for truck drivers. Tools like GPS tracking devices can help reduce time spent on the road by optimizing routes, making it easier for employers to guarantee their drivers time at home after a long haul.

  • Increased competition. The driver shortage has led to increased employee turnover as drivers accept new positions at competing companies offering higher rates of pay and better benefits.

Regardless of the factors contributing to the driver shortage, the shortage will likely lead to supply chain disruptions, shipping delays, higher inventory carrying costs, and even shortages in stores.

There are a few things carriers can do to reduce employee turnover and attract new talent. Here are our suggestions:

1. Treat drivers as career professionals, not expendable assets

Creating a career path that will eventually help your drivers achieve their personal goals, such as moving out of the cab and into an office, can positively impact employee retention. Companies can also provide the same perks a worker at a corporation may enjoy, such as salaries, benefits, vacation time, and healthcare.

2. Provide wellness programs

A recent study by HireRight discovered that 21 percent of drivers cite health issues as their primary reason for leaving the industry. Obesity and back pain are among the most commonly reported health issues:

As the workforce ages, employee wellness programs are becoming a popular retention practice. Wellness programs can include:

  • Safety and accident prevention programs.
  • Free immunizations and flu shots.
  • Smoking cessation programs.

Wellness programs improve the health of your drivers. They also signal your commitment to their health and well-being, which helps create a company culture that is more likely to inspire employee loyalty, as well as make you more appealing to new hires.

3. Use financial incentives

The HireRight study suggests that financial incentives are another common retention tactic employed by fleets:

  • Increased pay was offered by 51 percent of respondents to attract and retain drivers.
  • Equipment was upgraded by 49 percent of respondents.
  • Recognition or rewards programs were used by 41 percent of fleets.

To compensate for these incentives, GPS tracking devices can help fleets reduce costs by eliminating wasteful behaviors, decreasing fuel usage, and reducing insurance costs.

reduce fuel usage

Driver behavior data collected by GPS tracking devices can also help managers identify candidates for pay increases, equipment upgrades, or other forms of recognition.

4. Non-monetary benefits

Non-monetary benefits that are more about boosting morale and motivating employees to stay on board are also increasing in popularity:

  • Driver appreciation events are used by 57 percent of employers.
  • Flexible work arrangements are provided by 35 percent of employers.
  • Drivers are allowed to earn bankable home days by 10 percent of employers.

5. Targeting the next generation of drivers

Currently, drivers under the age of 21 are eligible for a commercial driver's license but are prohibited from interstate travel. Despite this restriction, fleets that operate across state lines can mitigate the negative effects of the driver shortage by targeting sources of younger workers, such as colleges and driving schools, and by adjusting their training and orientation programs to suit current legislation.

To improve the driver onboarding process, HireRight discovered that 34 percent of respondents created longer training periods and 32 percent of respondents appointed a mentor for new drivers. In addition to these tactics, technology like GPS tracking devices can help streamline the onboarding process by providing valuable driver behavior data. Fleet managers can use this data to coach and train drivers on how to operate their vehicles safely and efficiently.

Don't fall short

Trucking fleets across the nation are facing a driver shortage. From providing financial incentives and non-monetary benefits, to creating a career-focused culture and adjusting training schedules, fleets are finding new and innovative ways to attract and retain talent. GPS tracking devices provide additional insights that can assist any fleet in their endeavors, such as daily routes, turn-by-turn directions, and driver safety data.