How Carriers Can Navigate Today’s Driver Shortages

Supply chains have been stretched to new limits amidst longstanding driver shortages. As the global economy emerges from the worst of the pandemic, consumer demand has skyrocketed.

Today’s obstacles include equipment shortages, unpredictable pricing, and an industry slow to adopt technological innovation. But the driver shortage remains one of the biggest challenges of all—and businesses and carriers are struggling to keep up.

Truck drivers move 72% of American goods. Even so, trucking companies have long struggled to retain drivers, who face long hours, poor working conditions, and uncompensated wait times. According to the American Trucking Associations, last year’s shortage numbered a staggering 80,000 drivers—a figure that could double by 2030.

As driver shortages continue to strain global supply chains, carriers worldwide are scrambling for new, forward-thinking solutions. With the right strategies and resources, carriers can navigate unprecedented challenges with newfound confidence.

Innovation isn’t just an advantage—it’s a must

With more and more drivers leaving the field, today’s carriers need a revolutionary answer to growing inefficiencies. Fortunately, transportation management systems are a godsend for carriers managing hundreds or thousands of trucking fleets.

With real-time location visibility, companies can easily track drivers and shipments, eliminating miscommunication and delays. This, in turn, streamlines route planning and vehicle maintenance—a win for carriers everywhere.

By simplifying driver scheduling and timekeeping, a TMS can also help carriers prioritize safety. More than half of all US truck drivers are overworked, with many driving long hours while sleep-deprived. A timing overhaul ensures drivers get the rest they need.

Despite regular maintenance, drivers face several vehicle-related complications. Problems with tires, brakes, and batteries can result in breakdowns—a costly, time-consuming, and even life-threatening experience, especially in inclement weather or during rush periods. By turning to a TMS, carriers can harness diagnostic tools that can uncover high-stakes problems before they escalate.

Other digital tools, such as electronic logging devices (ELDs), can also improve driver retention rates. ELDs, which can seamlessly integrate with most TMS platforms, capture valuable driver information, including driving time and engine data. They help carriers cut down on time-consuming, error-prone paperwork, speeding up inspections and simplifying expenses.

Culture matters—especially on the road

To accommodate soaring demand, truck drivers are working more than ever. During busy periods, such as the holiday season, expectations are exceptionally high—yet few carriers prioritize worker morale. How can trucking companies cultivate an environment that attracts and retains talent?

    • Increase wages.Though they provide an invaluable service, truck drivers are often paid measly salaries. Driver pay has dramatically fallen since 1980, when the Motor Carrier Act deregulated the US trucking industry. The number of worker protections, such as union contracts, has also decreased: in 2020, only 10.1% of truck drivers signed union contracts, compared to 40% in 1983.Drivers are typically paid by the mile. That means they aren’t compensated for the time they spend waiting at refueling stations or rest stops. Detention times, or waiting periods that accompany loading and unloading processes, are also unpaid. Depending on shipper and consignee inefficiencies, weather, and traffic conditions, these can last several hours or more.

      Because many carriers pay drivers as independent contractors, many drivers are shelling out exorbitant amounts of money—and even going into debt—to cover fuel, maintenance, and other costs. Raising wages—by increasing freight rates, for example—can incentivize drivers to stay. Carriers can also provide benefits, career guidance, and other perks.

    • Prioritize driver comfort. Today’s drivers face countless indignities on the road. Without federal or state regulations governing trucker amenities, many drivers are regularly denied bathroom access and instead relegated to unhygienic portable toilets. For women and drivers with special needs, this is more than an inconvenience—it’s a significant health challenge.

Carriers can also improve employee satisfaction in more unconventional ways. Long-haul drivers navigate near-endless roads for hours at a time, in both daytime and the dead of night. As these journeys can quickly grow lonely, some drivers might prefer to bring their pets or spouses on the road.

  • Welcome feedback. An inviting, communicative environment can improve driver retention rates in the long run. By embracing feedback, carriers can build a fulfilling work culture that meets drivers’ needs.

Don’t let driver shortages hold you back

Driver shortages have become a ubiquitous challenge, exacerbating existing strains on carriers and their customers. Today’s carriers need new, dynamic solutions to keep pace with demand—including industry-leading technology and a revolutionary approach to morale.

With CTSI-Global’s advanced software—such as Honeybee TMS, our proprietary TMS—carriers can increase driver visibility and transparency, streamline demanding processes, and avoid unforeseen obstacles. In today’s fast-paced environment, carriers must radically reimagine their resources—beginning with the drivers who fuel them.

Contact us today.