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The long-anticipated "trucking capacity crunch" has arrived early, according to a January 2018 report by Jennifer Smith at the Wall Street Journal. The industry is facing a perfect storm of conditions contributing to the shortage including limitations on hours of service imposed by the ELD mandate, and a booming economy where nearly every marketable item travels by semi-trailer at one point or another in the supply chain.
At a time when getting a truck is like "trying to get a cab at LaGuardia", the scramble is on for carriers to fill open seats. But regulatory age restrictions are ruling out an entire pool of potential OTR driver candidates.
The Transport Topics article "Michigan Trucking Companies Struggle to Find Drivers" highlighted the challenges fleets are facing not only in Michigan but in the industry nationwide. Helen Zeerip, president of Teddy's Transport in Holland, Michigan, noted that baby boomers are quickly reaching retirement age, with the current average driver age now at 49.
Zeerip noted that recruiting efforts to find young replacement drivers are thwarted by stringent insurance company age restrictions requiring new drivers to have at least 2 years of driving experience, with a minimum age of 23, and less than 3 points on their motor vehicle record. These restrictions rule out an entire category of young high-school graduates in the 18-22 age segment as potential recruits.
Zeerip explains that even if insurance age limits were eased, the federal regulations requiring OTR drivers to be at least 21 to cross state lines would restrict an 18 to 20-year-old high school graduate to driving only in the state where they are domiciled.
Setting shortage problems for carriers aside, there may have never been a better time for OTR truck drivers themselves. Valuable veteran drivers can cash in on their documented experience with sign-on and referral bonuses, and more flexible scheduling is being offered as an incentive to retain them. The industry is also moving to make female drivers more at home in the trucking workforce with extra simulator training time and female driver liaisons. Recruiting efforts are also being focused on female veterans retiring from active military service.
At J. Ruble and Sons we carry a large inventory of high quality refurbished semi and heavy-duty trucks from day cab tractors and heavy spec cab and chassis to customized vocational trucks built to suit your specific needs, so don't hesitate to contact us.
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