I read a great article by the L.A. Times recently and the writer was Larry Kahaner. He brought up some great points about the ongoing truck driver shortage and went deep into truck drivers earning pay per mile. Could it be that truckers drivers weren’t concerned about how much they are making per mile, but rather how they get paid period? It brought up some interesting conversations as Truckers Logic hit the road to find out what truck drivers are saying.
Pay per mile for truck drivers is exactly as described, truck drivers get paid for every mile they travel. That pay depends on the company and experience, it can vary widely. When truck drivers are at the load docks or unload gate, the truck isn’t moving. When the truck isn’t moving, the driver isn’t getting paid.
At the current time, we estimate that the trucking industry is short around 35,000 truck drivers. If we continue on a growing pace, by 2020, we can be short by some 250,000 truck drivers. And if you include the high turnover in trucking and the aging truck driver population, we’re starting to see these alarming metrics that could cripple America’s top industry.
There’s a lot of different things that can be done. When we talk about the driver shortage, we bring up a lot of different factors that we feel contribute to the ongoing driver shortage. We talk about lowering the age from 21 to 18 for new tuck drivers, we talk about bigger sign-on bonuses, more company sponsored CDL programs. But what about changing the way truck drivers get paid? Now that’s an interesting concept.
We posted on our Facebook page to get your feedback, you can join in on the conversation by clicking here. We received some great feedback and want to invite our audience here at Truckers Logic to weigh in on the topic. So the floor is open…
Here’s what we think. First, I’ve always been an advocate for lowering the entry age from 21 to 18. Could that include a year of training? Absolutely, I would suggest it but it gets new drivers in after school. If you don’t, they’ll go on to college or other jobs. Get them in at 18, give them proper training and the drivers will be fine.
In terms of changing the payment terms, I don’t know that you can. Of course you can, but at what cost? What’s going to determine the go rate? We’ll need an example, something to base it on. Pay per mile is a familiar rate that we’re all use to and I’m fine with that. I don’t feel that I’m being downgraded because I’m being paid in this manner.
Is pay per mile the main cause of the truck driver shortage? I can’t say that is. I wanted to, I tried to but I can’t find the grounds. I still feel that the 18-21 age group is crucial. We have to get new drivers out of school before they take off, choose new careers. Because if we don’t, the shortage will continue.
Trucking is expensive. Owner operators know this, company drivers may be aware of it. Even with diesel prices dropping, fuel is still the greatest expense for carriers. CDL training is expensive. Do these cost deter new drivers? It has to. My opinion, there’s a lot of reasons for the driver shortage. There could be a lot of solutions also. Does the government understand how crucial trucking is to United States economy? They act like they don’t, we can’t even pass a long-term highway trust fund, how are we going to fill 30,000+ open trucking jobs?
One thing I do know, we better figure it out and find a solution now and not later.