The trucking industry is undergoing a major crisis. It’s not automation, as most believe, rather the opposite of the issue. The trucking sector is actually running out of qualified drivers.
The industry is anticipating a possibly debilitating shortage of drivers by 2025 if the problem is not addressed soon. While trucking companies are slowly tackling the problem, a new app is indirectly offering a possible relief.
How serious is the truck driver shortage issue?
The American Trucking Association estimates the sector is short of about 50,000 qualified truck drivers at the moment. In 2005, the shortage was only 20,000. The numbers have doubled since then, alarming many industry observers. Experts believe that by 2015, this number could swell to 170,000. The shortage can become even more severe because most of the current drivers in the industry are over 40. In a decade or so, these drivers would retire, worsening the situation.
The driver shortage is affecting the sector’s capacity to meet the freight delivery demand. For this reason, the driver shortage issue topped the list of “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry” published for this year by the American Transportation Research Institute.
Why exactly is the trucking industry facing a driver shortage problem? Being a truck driver continues to remain one of the best paying jobs for applicants without a college degree, so the trend can be confusing. While data does not pinpoint a single issue, industry insiders believe that the problem could stem from the fact that being a trucker is a tough job. Drivers have to spend months on the road alone. Driving a large 18-wheeler is much more stressful than driving, say, a cab. Therefore, young people are simply not interested.
An unconventional approach to a solution
Bill Busbice Jr, a veteran entrepreneur who once co-owned a trucking company, recently developed an app called HWY Pro. Unlike most trucking apps, this one is aimed directly at truck drivers themselves. Mr. Busbice aims to make the life of truckers, particularly independent ones, less time consuming and therefore more efficient. The less the time truckers have to spend on mundane tasks such as waiting for loads to arrive, the more time they will have for driving.
HWY Pro could help truckers save hours of time so that there’s more time for resting. Truckers are one of the main professions that utilize smartphones on the job for non-personal reasons. An app like HWY Pro could make the job less stressful, and thus, more appealing to newcomers.
Self-driving trucks and the future of the industry
The trucking sector is also expecting to undergo a self-driving revolution. One of the reasons that the driver shortage is not getting addressed as it should is because trucking companies hope automated trucks would be available in the near future. It very well may be, but whether self-driving trucks could hit the road by 2025 is still highly speculative.
Self-driving technology has made significant strides in recent times, but the field is still far from developing a genuinely automated vehicle. Until then, the trucking sector will need human drivers. More importantly, trucking companies will have to actively campaign to make the job more appealing to young drivers.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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