The truck driver shortage remains a top concern in the trucking industry. While all industry sectors have struggled finding enough drivers, the driver shortage is most acute in the longer-haul, for-hire truckload market, according to Bob Costello, chief economist for American Trucking Associations (ATA). Increased demand for freight, pandemic-related challenges from early retirements, closed driving schools and DMVs, and other pressures have pushed up demand for drivers.
To help remedy this shortage, Penske has launched a centralized driver hiring center (DHC) at its corporate headquarters in 2019. The DHC handles all administrative functions in the hiring process, including advertising, interviews, background checks and drug screens. As a result of the center, Penske shortened its cycle time to hire by 15 days.
While there is no single cause of the driver shortage, a primary factor involves the high average age of current drivers, which leads to an increased number of retirements.
Given the current environment, driver retention is critical. The National Transportation Institute's (NTI) top recommendations for retention programs include transparency and consistency with drivers’ schedules and pay and encouraging drivers to take part in health and wellness programs. Medical disqualifications and other health issues push hundreds of thousands of drivers from the industry each year, and it's usually the biggest cause of driver attrition in individual companies.