Commercial Driver Shortage is Here Again. Here Is What You Can Do

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

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 a lack of commercial drivers.

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

In early 2019, ATA forecasted an increasing driver shortage because of the slowdown in the economy as manufacturing fell off.

The shortfall is altogether different this time, and 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 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 become perpetual.

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 keep 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, service hours, 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. 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 reduce attrition. 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:

  • 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 onboarding 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 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 hire only those who rank in the top half of the assessment scores. Thus, those who are more committed and professional, care about your company and their safety, are serious about the training process, and so on.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Take steps to enable your drivers to maintain an excellent 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.

You can devise an alternate strategy if you can’t afford to offer every weekend off. 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. This way, every weekend 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 to help you survive the commercial driver shortage.

Conclusion about Driver Shortage

The driver shortage is likely to continue. If you don’t want your business to be impacted heavily, you must take steps to make your drivers’ jobs easier.

For example, suppose your drivers have been delivering 140 packages a day so far, and now you want them to make more than 200 deliveries daily. In that case, you must have tools 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 solutions mentioned above 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 author: Rahul Dasgupta

Rahul Dasgupta is a content writer with over 20 years of work experience. He holds a master’s degree in computer science and has written thousands of blog posts on route planning and scheduling, making it easy for readers to learn about these complex topics. Rahul enjoys playing tennis in his spare time and loves cuddling with his pet labrador Shinu. Rahul is a big fan of Roger Federer, Messi, and Bill Gates - he admires their drive to be the best at what they do and their philanthropic efforts.


About Route4Me

Route4Me has over 40,000 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.