Driver Shortage Hits Home (And The Bottom Line) For Distributors

Manufacturers, dealers and distributors can’t move stuff without trucks and drivers qualified to transport their goods. But as statistics bear out, that is getting tougher to do. According to a report from the American Trucking Associations, while more than 70% of goods consumed in the United States are moved by truck, rising demand means almost 900,000 more drivers are needed. At the start of 2018, DAT Solutions reports, only one truck was available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped—marking the lowest ratio since 2005.

And then there are demographics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old (and male, more than 90% of the time).

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors is being proactive about the crisis, and putting its support behind legislation proposing one solution. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would remove the federal regulation prohibiting drivers under the age of 21 from obtaining commercial drivers’ licenses for interstate commerce. 

The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE Safe) Act would allow 18- to 21-year-old drivers—with extensive safety training and hours of experience—to obtain commercial drivers’ licenses, a move that would both increase the number of available drivers to deal with the shortage, and allow high school graduates the opportunity to qualify for and obtain well-paying jobs that under the current federal regulation they cannot get, says NAW.

NAW has sent a letter supporting the bill, and is encouraging other distribution associations to do so as well.

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