Truck Driver Shortage Affecting Consumers

The Truck Driver Shortage is Already Here


The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the trucking industry is short 30,000 professional drivers, and the number is expected to escalate to 330,000 by 2020. Furthermore, 90 percent of transportation carriers report they cannot find enough drivers to meet their requirements. Experts predict the demand for commercial truck drivers to grow by 21 percent through 2020.

According to a survey by National Retail Systems (NRS), the driver shortage is the biggest concern in the trucking industry. Companies are beginning to focus on key areas to help mitigate the driver shortage and make sure their businesses aren’t put in park at the loading docks. Research shows an aging workforce and not enough new drivers entering the profession are fueling the driver shortage. Nearly 51 percent of drivers are over the age of 45 and 17 percent are over the age of 55. Also, fewer than 11,500 people are trained to be drivers every year. The bottom line is the trucking industry is losing drivers to retirement with not nearly enough young drivers entering the workforce to replace them. 

“Tightening capacity is an issue across the nation. Historically, when the industry has experienced capacity constraints we were able to purchase or obtain the extra capacity. Right now though, there is no extra capacity to purchase and that means shippers have to pay more than their competitors or find the perfect match between a carrier that has needs in the exact lane the freight is moving.” - Paul Boothe, Ryder Director of Transportation Management

How the Shortage Affects Consumers

As the trucking industry is working to keep its wheels turning, businesses are trying to make sure food products don’t spoil, store shelves are stocked and necessary parts are making it to the assembly line. Without a reliable pool of drivers, companies risk not having their fastest selling items in stock.This can lead to unsatisfied customers, fewer sales and a drop in repeat shoppers. In 2013, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported trucks moved more than 92 percent of prepared foods, including dairy products and prepared fruit, vegetable and nut products.

In an industry where on-time deliveries are crucial, the on-going truck driver shortage is causing even more challenges for food manufacturers, distributors, grocers and other companies playing a role in the food supply chain. This puts more pressure on companies to have reliable drivers, as a delay in food deliveries increases the risk of spoilage, and could ultimately result in financial losses. The healthcare industry relies on drivers for critical deliveries of medical devices such as pacemakers or dialysis machines, medical equipment, medications and other items critical to the health and treatment of patients across the country. 

To read more about the driver shortage and other issues affecting the trucking industry today, visit the Ryder Exchange Blog at