Truck Drivers Association Addresses ‘Biggest Problem’ of Workforce Shortage

by Liz Holland
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

President Biden’s administration has put forth a plan to fix truck driver shortages. However, one trucker association says Biden’s plan fails to address the root of the trucker labor shortage.

As every industry continues to face labor shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, solutions seem scarce. Additionally, problems from the shortages become more prevalent with time. The truck driving industry is certainly no different.

Working in an essential position to modern society, truck drivers are responsible for transporting goods from suppliers to chains all over the country. As we are all aware, they transport all kinds of goods for all kinds of industries. The White House said in a statement, “Trucking plays a critical role in the U.S. supply chain and economy. America’s truck drivers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, delivering goods to every corner of this country. A strong, stable, and safe trucking workforce that offers good-paying jobs to millions of truck drivers is a critical lifeblood of our economy.” 

Biden’s Plan to Help Truck Drivers is Missing The Mark, Says an Industry Professional

Most folks likely agree with The White House crediting trucking for its contribution to the economy, however, not everyone agrees on Biden’s plan of action. The current administration announced a “Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Trucking Workforce” plan.

The announcement came ahead of a White House Trucking Roundtable on Thursday. One of the most significant pieces of the proposal is providing states resources that will allow them to expedite the process of obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). A requirement of truck drivers is having a current CDL.

The plan is also supposed to encourage the development of apprenticeship programs by employers in the trucking industry. The idea is that this will help put drivers on the road that are well-trained and more adequately prepared.  

However, the Director of Government Affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Collin Long, says retention is the root of the problems in the trucking industry today. Long says the key isn’t getting more drivers on the road. Instead, making the career path more sustainable to keep drivers on the road is more important, Long says. Long tells FOX of Biden’s plan, “They’re putting so much emphasis on bringing in more drivers and not enough on what you do once they’re in the field, how you get them to stay behind the wheel. How do you make the job prosperous for them and safe for them? And a lot of that is what’s missing from the proposal.” 

Plan Still Proposes Some Positives

Luckily, Long says there are some positives to come out of Biden’s proposal. One issue in the trucking industry is unpaid time or, “detention time.” This refers to the time drivers spend waiting for their trucks to be loaded or unloaded– time they are not paid for. Biden’s proposal includes plans to take a closer look at this issue.

Long says, “The amount of time that they waste waiting to be loaded has increased exponentially over time. It’s getting worse and worse and worse….”If I’m a shipper or a receiver … and I’ve got this line of trucks, there’s no incentive for me to load or unload them efficiently because I’m not losing anything financially. The drivers aren’t being paid.”

Many in the industry hope to see positive change come soon. The US economy certainly will suffer without a successful trucking industry.