Truck driver shortage and retention are hot-button topics in the trucking industry right now. Especially considering how essential the sector is to keeping America well-stocked! Think about it; when you buy groceries for your everyday needs, several trucks have most likely transported each item!
So, although the freight industry is doing really well and has been faring well even during the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers are becoming a scarce commodity – and younger drivers aren’t replacing the aging pool of truck drivers. In order to attract a younger generation of tech-driven candidates, things need to change.
To help you understand the driver landscape and just how acute the need for drivers is:
There are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S.
Drivers are heavily reliant on men -only 6% of drivers are female according to ICIS.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old.
The average life expectancy of a professional driver is only 61 years (compared to 78 years of the average American male).
The low life expectancy number is directly tied to ‘trucker’ lifestyle factors that include many hours behind the wheel, little or no exercise, unhealthy diet, and poor sleep – not really enticing job conditions right?! COVID-19 has reduced the truck driver workforce, many saw the lockdown as a chance to change direction with their careers.
So, what is the industry doing to solve the problem of retaining its drivers? The answer seems to lie in part with technology – and surprisingly, drivers are the ones driving new tech solutions forward. New technology solutions are also putting the driver at the center, which is not only a first in decades but also a much-needed blueprint to improve work conditions for truck drivers now and in the future. Drivers are adopting new tech solutions to improve conditions so that they can keep trucking and modernizing the industry from within the cabs of their trucks.
The new tech tools
Let’s get into how tech solutions are helping to solve the problem of driver shortage. First, let’s address something that seems to be on everybody’s minds: self-driving trucks. There is no doubt that autonomous trucks are a thing, and they are likely coming sooner rather than later. But even though they may solve some of the problems, they will only replace a fraction of the more than three million drivers – and those self-driving trucks will need technicians, programmers, and ‘drivers’ opening up for a whole new job market within the sector.
The technology solutions that are making an impact here and now are more tool-based, and designed to make the lives of drivers easier – and make the trucking industry more attractive to a new technology-motivated generation of drivers. To get new drivers trained and coached, new remote training solutions developed during the pandemic are now being leveraged as a best practice way to onboard new drivers remotely. New digital and app-based solutions have emerged to make truckers work smarter, not harder. It could be an app to find overnight parking, improved navigation software that steers you free of delays in traffic, or a payment solution system that streamlines over-the-road expenses. The common denominator for all of these new technologies is that the driver is at the center of technology.
As an example, Relay Payments’ driver app that helps drivers pay for expenses over the road has amassed more than 250,000 downloads.
It is clear the goal of the freight industry is to get products delivered quickly, it is also becoming a priority to create a work environment where current drivers are well taken care of, and technology plays a huge part in securing that. It is also clear that there is a way for future tech-motivated drivers to secure a hugely beneficial career in trucking making life on the roads a covetable career path again.
If you want to learn more about how Relay Payments can help modernize your payment processes and keep you moving, please get started here.