The Answer to the Truck Driver Shortage

August 2, 2018

The answer to driver shortage means showing young people how today’s trucks offer just what they are looking for in a work environment.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are well aware of the driver shortage in the trucking industry. The American Trucking Association says the industry is about 51,000 drivers short of what is needed to keep trucking moving at a decent clip.

One major answer to the problem, of course, is to attract young people to the industry. The good news is that the trucking industry taps into a lot of the things millennials are looking for: technology, support for a social cause, and a need to be connected, informed and entertained.

Plugging into the Millennial Equation to Overcome Driver Shortage

Trucking has gained a certain “cool” factor, and by plugging into that equation, fleets stand a good chance of getting more young people interested in driving trucks as a career. We just need to start talking about how innovative we really are in order to overcome driver shortage.

Today’s trucks are technological wonders with enough computers and sensors to satisfy most technology geeks. There are plenty of things to capture the attention of someone who expects to interact with technology as part of their job.

Today’s trucks are technological wonders with enough computers and sensors to satisfy most technology geeks. Fleets need to be talking about this stuff in their recruiting efforts, because the more we talk about how technologically advanced trucks are, the more likely we are to attract the next generation of drivers. From automated transmissions, to quiet and smooth cabs, and from electronic engine parameters, to collision avoidance systems — just to name a few — there are plenty of things to capture the attention of someone who expects to interact with technology as part of their job.

Another part of the tech equation is the fact that drivers can complete training modules and even access infotainment options from inside the vehicle. Truck makers are installing touch screen displays in the cabs that can be used for navigation but also for audio entertainment and nearly all allow internet access in the cab.

Why not go to college or learn a new skill while driving a truck? There are plenty of online learning opportunities that drivers can avail themselves of, all from the comfort of the truck cab during down time. The trucks have ports for streaming video games, connecting on social media, plugs for flat screen TV’s, etc., making sure the younger generation of drivers are always connected.

But trucking offers more than that.

Millennials are Green, and So Are Today’s Trucks

Surveys have shown that millennials also expect their jobs will help improve the world in which we live. Caring for the earth is one of the causes that resonates strongly with this generation that will make up 75% of the work force by 2025.

Promoting the green aspects of today’s truck technologies gives the industry major talking points as a way to attract young drivers.

Thankfully, today’s trucks are cleaner, putting out very small amounts of pollutants, and the trucking industry is also making strides to be even greener with the plethora of efficiency technologies and practices being deployed. Promoting the green aspects of today’s truck technologies gives the industry major talking points as a way to mitigate driver shortage.

As the North American Council for Freight Efficiency reported in its recent Confidence Report on Solar Panels for Trucks and Trailers, fleets are beginning to look at solar as a way to extend battery life and power hotel loads, as well as control cabin temperatures to avoid idling the engine. Solar on trucks and trailers is making sure driver comfort is a number one goal, while using green technology.

Then there is the work that is being done in the area of battery electric vehicles, platooning and vehicle automation. These are all things designed to make trucks more efficient, but they also have a pretty high technology factor associated with them. Some very innovative people and companies are developing them, and they are getting widespread coverage in the national media. Before long everyone will know how technologically advanced trucks are.

Travel the Country While Earning a Living

Trucking offers a unique opportunity to travel not only the U.S., but Canada and Mexico as well. These potential young truck drivers are not buying houses, and instead value travel much more than prior generations. So, the life of a trucker may be of interest to more millennials than we think. A trucker’s life contains a lot of driving and may not have all that much time for seeing sights, but many truckers talk about how they enjoy the views, take their breaks on long walks, and visit what they can while on the road.

Trucking offers a unique opportunity to travel not only the U.S., but Canada and Mexico as well. Millennials value travel much more than prior generations.

Trucks are “cool” and they seem to be getting cooler every day as the trucking industry continues to use technology to make them safer, more efficient and more comfortable. One good way to attract — and retain — drivers is to demonstrate to them just how cool we are as an industry.

If you are a fleet, make sure your recruiting efforts focus on things that matter to the workers of tomorrow by letting them know you are making investments in the technology they crave, and that you are doing your part to have the coolest trucks on the road.

As for the rest of us in the industry, any time any of us has a chance to talk about our industry, make sure to share how cool it has become. We may need to use descriptors other than “cool”, matching our language to our audience, but you understand what I mean! It’s exciting to be in such an amazing, dope, radical, gnarly, awesome, and maybe, yes, I’ll say it, cool industry, so let’s start acting like it.