Fleet Management

ATA: Trucking Short of Nearly 100,000 Drivers Annually

October 22, 2013

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe

ORLANDO--On Tuesday American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said fleets are adjusting to continued tightness in the driver market by increasing pay and hiring newer drivers.

“While the driver shortage is generally confined to only certain segments of the trucking industry, it is having real impacts in how fleets recruit and retain their drivers.” Costello said during the “All About the Driver” general session during the ATA Management Conference and Exhibition taking place in Orlando, Fla.

Costello was joined by Jeff Flackler, vice president of transportation, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Derek Leathers, president & COO of Werner Enterprises and Steve Gordon, COO of Gordon Trucking Inc. for a panel discussion on driver issues moderated by Dave Osiecki, ATA senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs.

“Fleets in all segments of trucking have told us they are having a more difficult time finding qualified drivers than they were a year ago,” Costello said. “As a result, more fleets are considering hiring drivers straight out of driver training programs and nearly three-quarters of those we surveyed plan to increase pay or have already done so.”

The industry needs to find an average of roughly 96,000 new drivers annually to keep pace with demand. If freight demand grows as it is projected to, the driver shortage could balloon to nearly 240,000 drivers by 2022, according to ATA data.  


  1. 1. Cliff Downing [ October 23, 2013 @ 03:19AM ]

    We have heard this same line for several decades. I heard it all thru the 90's clear up to today. If trucking were so short of drivers, then compensation would reflect that. Simple marketing. Demand sets the price. Driver compensation has not shown that dramatic of an increase to suggest there is a shortage. Nor has working conditions changed for the better at a rate that would suggest there is a shortage and they are trying to attract drivers. Sure, there is a lot of job hopping going on, but that has always been the norm in OTR trucking.

  2. 2. Russell Vaughan [ October 23, 2013 @ 03:47AM ]

    I call bullshit on stories such as this one, and many others just like it that I have been reading in trucking industry "news" for 23 years. I consider these articles as nothing but propaganda from large employers in the industry to put pressure on elected officials to change immigration and visa requirements. I have watched as government regulation of driver credentials has made the bar to entry so aggravating and unnecessarily expensive and intrusive that many ablebodied people are discouraged.. At the same time the scrutiny by law enforcement has gotten so ridiculous that many experienced drivers are made to look bad by the computer record.. There is no room for error or learning..everything has to be done perfectly the very first time..the industry just isnt worth the hassle.

  3. 3. Steve Crawford [ October 23, 2013 @ 04:27AM ]

    If there is a shortage of drivers, why aren't the shelves bare at the stores? I have never been turned away from a store, restaurant, supplier, etc. due to no merchandise being available because no one was there to driver the truck. News flash: THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF DRIVERS! There is a shortage of good, credible carriers that care enough about their human assets to protect them and take care of them. The real truth is that there are too many trucks in the marketplace. The big carriers went through a binge (and continue to do so) where market share was the goal. They did it by being the lowest bidder. That started the race to the bottom. Guess where you are when you win that race? The bottom. The big guys are where they are because they chose it.

  4. 4. Fitz [ October 23, 2013 @ 06:58AM ]

    You all have good comments, however where I am there is a driver shortage this has been my worst year for hiring. While the company I am with is very specialized still in all I have not had the applications as I have had in the other years. I feel there is a shortage of good drivers which I am looking for because of our uniqueness. But I also hear the same from many of my counterparts in general freight struggling as well. We are in a mode of recycling drivers, hiring the wrong drivers that should be forced out. Nothing much we can do about the big companies as of yet but driver pay and conditions will need to improve to get new blood into the industry. The problem is that only a few see that as being a reality.

  5. 5. John Mullen [ October 23, 2013 @ 08:40AM ]

    The shortage grows and the causes remain the same, the growing overburden of regulations and the working conditions at Carriers.The solution to the unrealistic overburden of regulations will not occur under the present Administration. Unacceptable working conditions must be exposed by one of the ATA peer group who will stand up and shout "The King has no clothes!" Not going to happen. Pay increases translates to mileage pay, reducing the amount of free time in delays, seducing drivers out of driving schools, placing them with a trainer at a low rate of pay (for as long as he will accept it), the game is the same. We have seen the attempts to lower the required age of drivers, increase the number of female and married couple teams, wave the bait of lease purchases, company operated driver schools (two were closed by the FBI), use immigrant drivers (regardless of language problems) and we are not out of the starting gate yet to solve the problem. This retired 50 year veteran of the industry would welcome the opportunity to address the problem with a group sincerely dedicated to change

  6. 6. John [ October 23, 2013 @ 10:26AM ]

    If there was really a shortage of drivers, the fed. gov't. would NOT ALLOW these ridicolus rules to be even considered, much less put into effect! I think the gov't. looks at it like we need to give these less fortunate foreigners a chance to better themselves. Our leaders jump at the chance to help other countries, while this country goes without. We do NOT need the gov't to tell us when to sleep. We know when we're tired. They don't need to tell us to get out our blankey, and take a 30 nap. I know if I need to stop or not. Are we safer now than 20 yrs.ago? Yes. But alot of that is attributed to the drivers. And states making truck spped the same as other vehicles. A 30 min. break, elogs, EOBR's, taking away split logs, and the many other newly implemented rules had/have nothing to do with safety. These rules are about money. Money the gov't., local towns, someone else, can take from our pockets. Money that we use to feed our families, pay our bills, and buy stuff.
    The trucking industry is so overregulated as it is, there just aren't enough younger people interested in driving anymore. Instead of trying to keep their current drivers, many companies cut the vetern drivers miles, and push those miles onto the new, lower paid drivers, who then become frustrated with the heavy workload, and quit. If the companies would stand up to the shippers/receivers, and demand that trucks get loaded/unloaded in as soon as they hit the dock, there would be no reason for detention time. And on that, there should not be ANY sitting at the dock 2, 3, 4 hrs before detent time starts. That time starts as soon as the truck is there. Th

  7. 7. Kevin J. Reidy [ October 23, 2013 @ 02:12PM ]

    There are a shortage of decent-paying, decent working conditions, decent home time, decent driver/employer relations, decent trucking companies that don't treat their employees like so much disposable toilet paper.

    Run from any company that advertises "WE LOVE OUR DRIVERS!" prominently, because they need to lie in order to cover up just how shitty a company they are to work for.

    I'd rather work for a company that tells me that I'm not there to be loved, I'm there to work, and they'll pay me well for working hard for them..

  8. 8. Don Lanier [ October 23, 2013 @ 05:07PM ]

    Driver shortage Critical....but lets change this to read, DRIVER PAY AT CRITICAL LEVELS....average out the time a driver spends sitting in his truck versus his driving, or earning time, we sit far longer, waiting at Docks, Waiting at Shippers, Waiting for Inspections, Waiting for Loads....average out the pay and its a WALMART WAGE...The days of making that great living via trucking are being replaced by thousands of steering wheel holders pumped out of driving schools, while raking in huge profits on these same students, then firing them as soon as they make a rookie mistake.....

    There is no driver shortage, there is a QUALITY PAY DRIVING JOBS SHORTAGE....Now with the Forced DOT Money mill clinics, Sleep Apnea blackmail at these same clinics, HOS Changes, Forced Naps for 30 min, forcing trucks into rush hour traffic, Lack of Detention pay and accountability for this, PAY that hasnt changed since the 1970s......its no wonder they need 11 million new trucking applicants who will accept even lower wages....and reduce the safety that Long Term older drivers have always brought to the table. DRIVER SHORTAGE......GOOD PAY SHORTAGE......

  9. 9. Keith Pence [ October 26, 2013 @ 08:46AM ]

    There are plenty of drivers available,they just refuse to be treated like second class citizens. Being forced to work for nothing as they sit at a shipper or receiver. Then chased down on the highway by the dot like a criminal. What a great life,I'm surprised they can find anyone to drive a truck!!! After thirty years of trucking,I made less than when I started.

  10. 10. Steve [ October 26, 2013 @ 02:41PM ]

    With leaders like Mr.Graves always throwing the drivers under the truck and in it just for the Big Companies what more do you expect.

  11. 11. Jimmy Hoffa [ October 26, 2013 @ 06:47PM ]

    The only people getting more compensation is CEOS ....PERIOD

  12. 12. Danny Gabard [ October 27, 2013 @ 02:27PM ]

    I just got out for all the above reasons.


Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 2000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry.


ELDs and Telematics

sponsored by
sponsor logo

Scott Sutarik from Geotab will answer your questions and challenges

View All

Sleeper Cab Power

Steve Carlson from Xantrex will answer your questions and challenges

View All