The largest portion of the truck transportation workforce was in the 45-54 year age range in 2013.  Graph via ATRI

The largest portion of the truck transportation workforce was in the 45-54 year age range in 2013. Graph via ATRI

The median driver age had risen significantly over the past two decades according to a new paper released by the American Transportation Research Institute that analyzed the demographics of driver age.

The ATRI found that the trucking industry was disproportionately dependent on employees 45 years of age or older. At the same time there has been a sharp decrease in drivers aged 35 years and younger.

The median truck driver age in 2013 was 46.5 years old versus 42.4 for the overall U.S. workforce. Private carriers skewed older still with a median driver age of 52 years old.

“The average age of our current driver workforce is 52 and we’re noticeing fewer and fewer younger individuals applying for jobs in recent years,” said Keith Tuttle, founder of Motor Carrier Service and member of the ATRI research advisory committee.

Despite the driver shortage, younger prospects are not joining the industry making the looming retirement of a large portion of the workforce more alarming to carriers. The ATRI cited restrictions in allowing drivers to join the industry as key to the industry's struggles to find younger drivers. 

A federal requirement that CDL holder be at least 21 years old is the biggest obstacle to attracting younger drivers, according the ATRI. The age requirement leaves a three year post-high school gap which may be preventing drivers from considering a career in trucking.

Certain sectors like hazmat or long-haul trucking have even more stringent restrictions, often limiting its drivers to an age of 25 years or older.

“If the industry doesn’t collectively figure out how to recruit younger drivers we may not have anyone left to haul freight in the coming decades,” said Tuttle. “With more and more of the nation’s freight being hauled by trucks now and in the future, this is a piece of the puzzle we have to solve.”

To gain access the entire paper, click here.