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Commercial Driver Shortage Crisis Rising Again as in 2018. Here Is What You Can Do

Rear view of delivery man opening delivery van, he holding doors.
Featured image credit: ArtistGNDphotography/iStockphoto.com

The commercial driver shortage is once again on the rise.

Industry experts argue that the current situation is similar to that in 2018 when a surge in freight volumes led to the dearth of commercial drivers.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimated that the commercial driver shortage was around 60,000 back in 2018. In 2019, there wasn’t much difference, but the impact was low.

In early 2019, ATA forecasted a small rise in the driver shortage because of the slowdown in the economy as manufacturing fell off.

This time around, the reason for the shortfall is altogether different, while the problem could become more severe.

Reasons for the Commercial Driver Shortage

Below are some of the reasons why there is a shortage of drivers.

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse went live in January 2020 and reported almost 8,000 substance abuse violations in the first few weeks. By July 31, 2020, the number of violations increased to 26,433 drivers who had been prohibited from being hired.
  • Very few drivers entered the labor pool as the “new normal” of social distancing has severely hit the seating capacity in driver training schools. This has resulted in very few commercial drivers attending these training schools.
  • It is unsure how many drivers who have been laid off due to the current pandemic will return when there is a hiring spree again, as many would have already entered alternate professions.

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Tips to Manage the Driver Shortage

This driver shortage problem can’t be allowed to remain perennial.

The fundamental solution should be hiring the right drivers and, most importantly, retaining the best drivers as long as possible.

Below are some solutions that can help you make that happen.

Adopt a Delivery Route Planner

The current pandemic has caused an online shopping spree which will only increase with the upcoming holiday season.

This might be keeping you awake at night, but, with the right tool, you can manage the challenge seamlessly, even with limited resources.

So, you must adopt a tool like a route planner to help your drivers make the maximum number of stops, without hiring additional resources.

Such a multi-stop route planner plans well-optimized routes and provides accurate driving directions from one place to another.

It even factors in multiple constraints, such as the weather, traffic congestion, sunrise and sunset, hours of service, load, weight, height, one-ways, under-construction roads, and left-turns. Doing the same with a pen and paper just isn’t feasible.

And, when your drivers get the fastest route to destinations, they’ll make timely deliveries and cover more stops than usual. This means that you don’t need to worry about hiring additional drivers and the driver shortage won’t affect you as much.

Adopting a delivery route scheduling software can also help you improve employee satisfaction and zero down attrition possibilities. This is because your drivers will get optimized routes and can make more money.

So, your drivers will see you as a caring employer and they would prefer sticking with you, rather than choosing your competitors.

In addition, the improved routes will improve your brand’s reputation which will help you attract quality drivers.

There are many other features and benefits offered by a service route planner which can also help you attract and retain drivers and make your field operations management seamless.

These features and benefits include the following:

  • A balanced work-load distribution means that no driver is under- or overworked.
  • GPS tracking enables you to monitor your drivers in real-time to ensure driver safety by keeping them from driving aggressively and by allowing you to offer roadside assistance whenever required.
  • You can track driver performance through a reporting and analytics feature to offer rewards and recognitions and provide better training.
  • The eSignature feature ensures paperless proof of delivery and better manages customer disputes.

Learn about the nine benefits of investing in dynamic routing technology.

Use a Predictive Behavior Assessment Tool

Losing a driver after spending hours hiring, training, and on-boarding the driver will have you at a disadvantage. So, you need loyal drivers to ensure you don’t need to keep hiring new ones.

After all, you’re not a recruitment firm and you can’t afford to spend hours just hiring drivers.

Therefore, you must use a predictive behavior assessment tool when recruiting new drivers.

This will enable you to only hire those who land up in the top half of the assessment scores and thus those who are more committed and professional, care about your company and their own safety, are serious about the training process, and so on.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Take steps to enable your drivers to maintain a good work-life balance. Once you show that you value their family commitments, they’ll remain highly motivated and committed to your company.

For example, you can allow your drivers to spend weekends at home.

If you can’t afford to offer every weekend off, you can come up with an alternate strategy. Those drivers who complete 48 hours of driving or 3,000 miles can spend a couple of days with their families.

Alternatively, you can implement a rotation policy. In this way, every weekend that the drivers work, they can spend the next couple of weekends at home.

Other Steps and Solutions

While we have discussed the primary solutions, we provide several other steps you can take to manage the driver shortage below:

  • Offer a flexible work schedule.
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination and harassment. This is a must for female drivers.
  • Provide health insurance.
  • Offer growth opportunities.

Learn about three more tips that will help you survive the commercial driver shortage.

Conclusion about Driver Shortage

The driver shortage is likely to continue for long and if you don’t want your business to be impacted heavily, you must take steps to make your drivers’ job easier.

For example, if your drivers have been delivering 140 packages a day so far and now you want them to make more than 200 deliveries a day, then you must have tools in place to help them make the additional packages, without compromising time and safety.

The old-school approach will no longer work and putting too much pressure on your drivers without solving their current problems will make them unhappy and lead to attrition.

So, you should have patience, while dealing with this problem and implement the above-mentioned solutions to find your way out of this problem.

Do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Want To See For Yourself How Route4Me Can Boost Your Profits?

Whether you want to slash the time it takes you to plan routes for your drivers, increase the number of stops they can make, or keep your customers satisfied knowing that your drivers show up on time… Route4Me helps you achieve that!

Start Free 7 Day Trial

About Route4Me

Route4Me has over 34,000 customers globally. Route4Me's Android and iPhone mobile apps have been downloaded over 2 million times since 2009. Extremely easy-to-use, Route4Me's apps create optimized routes, synchronize routes to mobile devices, enable communication with drivers and customers, offer turn-by-turn directions, delivery confirmation, and more. Behind the scenes, Route4Me's operational optimization platform combines high-performance algorithms with data science, machine learning, and big data to plan, optimize, and analyze routes of almost any size in real-time.