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What you need to know about the U.S. truck shortage

By William Sanchez, Manager - Truck Services

By William Sanchez, Manager – Truck Services
Universal Logistics, April 2018

Did you know that at the end of last year just one truck was available in the U.S. for every 12 loads that needed to be moved? Trucking prices spiked as a result and could go even higher because:

  • Demand for U.S. drivers is rising sharply and with it the cost of hiring a driver.
  • The number of available drivers is declining because the installation of now mandatory Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) means operators can no longer ignore drive time limits, and some observers are predicting that ELDS will ultimately reduce capacity by up to 5 percent.
  • Multiple late-season winter storms in the north-east slowed the movement of truck freight
  • Diesel prices are near a three-year high
  • Recruiting replacements for retiring drivers is difficult because current work conditions and pay scales are unappealing

Finding solutions is vital as the price of trucking is already up about 20% year-to-year and the entire supply chain (ocean, air, rail) is being stressed by delays that are a direct result of the driver shortage (70% of the nation's freight is moved by truck, according to the American Trucking Association).

What happens next?

  • Carriers are investing in new equipment, but none of this new capacity will be available in the short term.
  • New driver recruitment has become a priority for many carriers, who are now offering better compensation packages, including higher pay, new benefits and improved training. That will help reduce the shortage of capacity, but put even more pressure on prices as carriers pass on the added costs.
  • ELD is being opposed by smaller truck fleet operators, who think it is an unnecessary regulation that should not apply to their operations, and some are threatening to quit if they are not allowed to operate as usual.

Request your free introductory consultation

With a little creativity and long term planning, it is possible to get around or at least minimize the difficulties created by the tightening market for U.S. trucking. Get started now by following these tips:

  • Plan shipments further in advance than usual
  • Help yourself by helping carriers get in and out of your facility as fast as possible (extend shipping and receiving hours, provide clear carrier communication promptly, adhere to schedules)
  • If possible, split your freight into smaller shipments (1-4 pallets) as they are easier to move
  • Expect continuing rate fluctuations until more trucks and drivers become available

Learn more by requesting your free introductory consultation today. I am here to help!

Quick Tips

Tip #56 – How driving limits for truck drivers impact transit times

The following driving limits, imposed by the U.S. and Canada for safety reasons, could impact your transit times:

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