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Driver issuesNewsTop StoriesTrucking Regulation

OOIDA urges Biden administration to bust driver shortage ‘myth’

Independent truckers say driver turnover is the real problem

The Biden administration should reject the notion that there is a shortage of truck drivers and instead focus on why carriers find it difficult to keep drivers in their ranks, according to the largest small-business trucking lobby.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association pressed the department’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (ACSCC) to resolve the underlying causes of excessive driver turnover – also known as “churn”. “Otherwise, we anticipate turnover rates will remain precariously high or even increase no matter how many new drivers are eligible to enter the industry,” wrote OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh.

Pugh was responding to a recent recommendation by the ACSCC — a nongovernmental advisory panel in the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration — that the department lead a government effort to address a truck driver shortfall by expanding demographic pools, such as women and minorities, and increasing driver training and apprenticeship programs.

However, large motor carriers and their representatives have for decades “perpetuated the myth of a driver shortage to promote policies that maintain the cheapest labor supply possible,” Pugh asserted. “In reality, evidence from the federal government and industry analysis shows that driver turnover is the problem.”

To support his assertion, Pugh pointed to estimates from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that over 400,000 new commercial driver’s licenses are issued each year. He also noted that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) had not found evidence of a driver shortage when it studied the problem in 2019.

“Instead, [DOL] identified the high turnover experienced by large carriers as one reason for the perception of a shortage,” Pugh stated. “Reporting from representatives of the nation’s largest truck fleets routinely [shows] annual turnover rates above 90%. Clearly, there is no shortage of drivers entering the industry.”

To address driver retention, Pugh wrote that federal regulators should focus on increasing truck parking capacity — which was also recommended by ACSCC — as well as finding ways to boost compensation and overtime pay, improving driver training programs, and eliminating excessive detention time.

“For instance, a majority of OOIDA members who operate under the 60 hour/7-day rule and those who operate under the 70 hour/8-day rule spend between 11 and 20 hours each week waiting to load or unload their truck. Additionally, drivers are allocating more and more of their on-duty time searching for safe parking locations due to capacity shortfalls in every region of the country.

“Addressing these inefficiencies will repair supply chain vulnerabilities in a far more sustainable manner than simply allowing more drivers to enter the industry.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

7 Comments

  1. Parking has reduced capacity by 10 percent or more and reduced truck driver Income the same amount because with E -logs we can drive untill we find parking. Let truck drivers extend the day to 16 hours with overtime after 8 hours driving or a 10 hours day after 10 hours driving and 13 hour day have pay go to double time. Make all trucking companies provide tempary housing for sick and injured truck drivers that do not have a home or apartment. Also make all trucking companies pay a base wage of $24.00 U s per hour for a O T R drivers with 5000 hours experience in my opinion the shortage would be gone.

  2. Pull over the interstate is not the United states I’ll shut down the interstate if you don’t pull over I can shoot anyone I want in the United states and your government wont do anything about we are international security doing police work for the UN. No talking on the CB radio that’s distracted driving. You just lost your CDL because you talked on the CB radio while driving. Your automatically Fined you must be that Werner that just went by I’m sending the Fine to Werner . I will automatically Fine all you trucker’s out of business and put you in jail for a commission check from the prison system.

  3. Truck drivers have been exempt from overtime since the passage of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935. Remove this exemption and watch the driver shortage and safety issues simply disappear. The American economy has always been built on the backs of drivers who choose, or are forced, to work without the protection of a 40-hour workweek. Three branches of the federal government are currently under Democrat control but even those hypocrites don’t have the stones to do it.

  4. THERE IS NO DRIVER SHORTAGE !!!!
    Wake up !!!
    The company’s that pay well and have good benefits aren’t crying about driver shortages
    Hmmmmm🤔🤔🤔

  5. So, what does OOIDA care about this? Is the fund raising down and they need to come out with something to goose the donations?

    And they bring this out when we have a huge driver shortage.

    I am guessing they do not understand the irony that capacity issues drive rates up for members.

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