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Published On: Fri, Sep 16th, 2022

The Trucking Industry is Ready for a Comeback

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the trucking industry wasn’t doing so well. There was an ongoing driver shortage, and smaller trucking companies struggled to compete with large corporations. In 2021, the industry was short 80,000 drivers.

Even so, there was a small boom somewhere in 2020 that made the trucking industry explode. However, since then, the industry has come down a bit, but a recovery is predicted.

What’s happening with the trucking industry?

Although the pandemic exacerbated the problem, there has been a driver shortage in the trucking industry for years. It’s not that there aren’t any CDL holders – it’s that many of those CDL holders don’t want to drive commercial trucks anymore and are leaving in droves. 

Why would so many people leave a high-paying profession that seems to give them a ton of freedom? Well, from the outside, driving a truck seems like a difficult, yet rewarding job, but it’s actually one of the most stressful jobs around.

Driving a commercial truck isn’t just hard work – it’s grueling. Between being on the road for weeks or months at a time, living in cramped quarters, living on truck stop food, and having to meet tight deadlines with pressure from higher ups, many experienced drivers have been walking away from the profession.

Truck drivers are burned out

Long-haul commercial truck drivers are burned out because they’re not just driving long distances. They have to deal with traffic jams, bad weather, closed routes, unexpected repairs, blown tires, overheated engines, and extremely long wait times at warehouses. These issues are unavoidable and put drivers behind schedule, which doesn’t fare well with their employers.

And those high salaries you see advertised? They’re not as high as they seem. Although some drivers earn between $80,000-$110,000 per year or more, the hourly rate ends up being somewhere between $18-$25 per hour.

It’s the smaller trucking companies that struggle

Currently, the trucking industry is seeing a comeback, but it’s mostly the larger corporations rather than the smaller companies that are doing well. Small operations are still struggling to stay in business since they can’t afford the expenses or the larger salaries offered by big corporations.

However, some smaller trucking companies are surviving by finding ways to save money on operating costs, but there aren’t many things they can do about certain expenses.

For example, truck repairs are an inevitable expense, but there’s no way to avoid paying for that labor. There is, however, a way to get cheaper parts. Many companies have started importing new truck parts from Canada because the exchange rate makes them much cheaper.

Things are changing in the trucking industry

Although the actual job of driving a truck can be grueling most of the time, there are still people willing to go through the fire. Some drivers only do it for the money and don’t really care what they have to do during their travels. Other people love the freedom too much to go back to any other type of work.

Although the work is hard, it can be made better through changing company culture in the industry. A big part of the reason truckers quit before retirement age is because there’s too much pressure to meet impossible delivery deadlines, and all it takes is one minor breakdown to miss a delivery time. Some employers pressure drivers to meet deadlines no matter what, and some even penalize drivers for missing times.

This pressure to deliver on time at all costs puts truckers in a bad position. Many feel the need to work more than they’re legally allowed to, which makes them drive while tired, and puts everyone’s safety at risk.

Some companies are prioritizing company culture

Many trucking companies are building a strong company culture from the ground up, and are making some serious headway. For example, they’re investing in software and systems that make it easier for drivers to meet deadlines, and they’re using software to determine deadlines that are more reasonable.  

While the industry hasn’t quite recovered yet, things are looking up, and it’s only a matter of time before things get back on track. With a new batch of CDL holders entering the industry, once they get past the learning curve, we’ll have a new generation of truck drivers working for companies with a positive company culture. 

The work won’t stop being grueling. However, drivers won’t be pressured to drive unsafely just to meet a deadline. This simple change could be the start of the comeback the industry has needed for a while.

Author: Anna Johansson

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