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The 2021 Truck Driver Shortage: How Does This Impact The Trucking Industry?

Truck Driver Academy / Blog  / The 2021 Truck Driver Shortage: How Does This Impact The Trucking Industry?

The 2021 Truck Driver Shortage: How Does This Impact The Trucking Industry?

If you’re in the trucking industry, or even if you’re just an average consumer, you’ve likely heard about the current truck driver shortage. Based on freight demand, the amount of drivers needed to address that demand is significantly below the number of drivers in the market. In fact, the American Trucking Associations estimates that the shortage of drivers is currently at 80,000 drivers. 

So why is there a shortage of truck drivers currently? There are a number of different factors really, so it’s not one individual cause. All of these factors combined are continuing to make the gap in drivers grow even further. Below we dive into each of these causes of the driver shortage.

Main Factors Causing the Truck Driver Shortage

Aging Workforce

One of the biggest causes of the truck driver shortage is an aging workforce. In fact, about 57% of drivers are over the age of 45. As the average age of drivers continues to go up, more and more drivers will be retiring each year without the same number of young drivers coming in to replace them.

So why is recruiting new/younger drivers so difficult? Again, there are many contributing factors (a couple of which are detailed below), but one thing to consider is that there is a minimum age requirement to drive across state lines. Drivers must be 21 in order to do so, so that does put some limitations on recruiting younger drivers.

Work/Life Balance

Another factor of the driver shortage is due to the overall stresses of the job. Being a truck driver, specifically in the long haul market where the shortage is most prevalent, means long hours and a lot of time away from home and your family. Many drivers are prioritizing family time and seeking out careers with more of a work/life balance. 

Competition From Other Jobs

Carriers are seeing that a big reason that drivers are leaving the workforce is due to competition from other jobs, especially in warehousing. While many younger workers are entering the logistics industry, we’re seeing a trend of them choosing warehousing over trucking. The reason behind this choice is possibly due to the work/life balance mentioned above. 

COVID-19 Decrease in Training

The truck driver shortage in 2021 became especially apparent as the logistics industry as a whole was in flux. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a lot of hurdles for the trucking industry. One of those being that many driver training schools were closed for a period of time and were not able to train as many drivers. While this may have been minimal in its overall effects on the driver shortage, it’s still worth pointing out as it is likely a cause of fewer young drivers joining the workforce.

Drug Testing/Criminal Record

Another potential cause of the truck driver shortage is drivers being let go or not hired altogether due to failure of a drug test or a past criminal history. State laws that differ from federal seem to be contributing to an increase in applicants that don’t meet the carrier’s hiring standards.

What Next?

So now that we’ve got an understanding of why there is a shortage of truck drivers, how do we address this issue? Unfortunately, it’s not a simple answer. Seeing as there are multiple contributing factors to the truck driver shortage, a single solution isn’t feasible. Addressing each of these issues individually will likely have an impact on the other issues though, so there is definitely an opportunity for improvement. 

One major way to address the driver shortage is by recruiting people like you! If you’re ready to get started on your trucking career, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our CDL training course and get yourself one step closer to your career in trucking.