We all know about the projected shortfalls in the difference between the actual number of drivers out there and what is actually needed. And we are also aware of other things like ageing truck driver workforce, potential drivers unwilling to drive the long stretches and, of course, the millennial effect, in which they would rather be doing something “cooler” than driving a truck for a living.
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned things remain the really consistent themes and even if the employment outlook appears to be improving we don’t the see any positive change in the shortfall of truck drivers.
There are numerous other reasons for the lower turnover percentage on the truckload side but the hope of improvement remains the same for 2017. Despite the falling turnover rate, carriers continue to report difficulty finding well-qualified drivers, a problem that will not only persist but get worse as the freight economy improves. The shortage of truck drivers stands high and has the potential to go higher due to industrial growth and ageing driver workforce and also noting that if current trends remain intact, the driver shortage could be significantly worse in the next ten years.
So what needs to be done to improve the situation? Rising driver pay is a good option to start with but it is not as easy as it sounds, given the typically very thin carrier margins. Signing bonuses can help too, but they often lack lasting impact, due to the demand-sensitive nature of trucking. In other words, drivers move around a lot due to a better offer from someone else.
Even with an increased onus on augmenting driver training, retention, and compensation packages, many carriers are still struggling with how to fill the empty seats. The ongoing driver shortage still remains a major factor for tight over the road capacity, which has been burdensome for shippers who pay higher rates for getting their freight moved in a timely and efficient manner.
Modern heavy vehicles are more technologically advanced than most cars, with safety features including lane change assistance, emergency braking and satellite tracking. But despite technological progress, truck driving remains one of the least safe professions in Australia, with a fatality rate of 20 deaths per 100,000 workers, which is 12 times above average, according to Safe Work Australia. Also, it can’t be ignored that the truck driving profession has an image problem in Australia which contributes to its failure to attract young workers.
Australia is rapidly running short of truck drivers and is on course for an economic hit in the next decade as transport companies increasingly fail to find enough staff to meet the growing demand to move freight. There is always a ray of hope for improvement but until then things continue to move down a highway of uncertainty when it comes to the never-ending truck driver shortage.