The widening shortage of truck drivers in North America is an issue getting increased play among media outlets.
Most recently, Yahoo Finance online – via Business Insider magazine – outlined the problem in a feature article, pointing out that the incoming electronic logging device mandate could exasperate the shortage in the coming years.
With 75% of the industry still on paper logs, a segment that finds it difficult to live with the automated oversight of hours-of-service compliance could eventually hang up their keys, the states.
[textbox padding=”20″]”In our view, drivers are motivated to drive as many miles as possible, as driver pay is based on a ‘per/mile’ pay scale,” wrote Brad Delco and Ben Hearnsberger at Stephens. “As a result, we believe carriers without ELDs have an advantage in recruiting/retaining drivers as less strict adherence to HOS regulations equates to higher driver pay and therefore helps attract/retain more drivers.”[/textbox]
While there may an initial exodus of drivers in the wake of ELDs, the driver turnover rate (currently 92% for large truckload carriers in the U.S.) is expected to decline in the long-run as there will be penalties for working drivers harder and longer than the rules allow.
“The reason you have such high driver turnover now is there are a lot of different jobs competing for these drivers,” Delco said. “Whether it’s local construction or work in the oilfield business, it’s basically competing for these drivers, which causes them to always look at where the grass is greener.”
Enforcing the use of ELDs on all carriers could reduce supply by 4% to 8%, Delco and Hearnsberger write. However, they believe that universal use of ELDs will level the playing field, “which would give no carrier/driver a distinct advantage over another due to falsifying log books,” they write in a note. “We believe this would result in a more rational pricing environment where best-in-breed carriers would win based on service/value.”
The good news for truck drivers is trucking companies are beginning to take note of their troubles and working toward improving pay and overcoming other obstacles in their way.