DOT & ELD Guidance Blog

Overcoming the Driver Shortage 

Get tips on attracting new people and hiring the right drivers.
J.J. Keller Industry Consultant Tom Bray

Tom Bray - Industry Consultant - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

September 21 , 2018

Economic, technological, and social factors have all made it difficult to attract new people into the industry. This lack of new drivers entering the industry in adequate numbers has created a driver shortage, and the hiring pool is all but dried up. So where will the industry find the next oasis in this desert of talent shortage?

To get through the driver shortage as unscathed as possible, motor carriers should strategically analyze current applicants’ talents and skills and compare them to future needs. Because of the talent shortage, management must develop a culture where all employees think in terms of longevity of employment and of developing skills. Similar to an apprenticeship in a trade, it is the depth of training the new employee receives early on in their career that creates the value of their productivity later on.

The Benefits of Inexperience

While it may come with challenges, there are also potential advantages of taking completely inexperienced individuals with no involvement in the motor carrier industry and making drivers out of them, including:

Your way right from the start — A driver you train from the ground up will not be coming to you with bad driving or work habits picked up at other carriers. He or she will come to you with a clean slate, and will likely be more receptive to your company’s safety values and practices.

Better attitudes — Drivers who hop from job to job often have negative attitudes about the trucking industry as a whole. A brand-new driver is more likely to approach the job with enthusiasm, instead of the cynicism you sometimes see in experienced drivers.

Increased driver loyalty — In an apprenticeship agreement, your new employee signs a contract to work for you for a certain period of time. But more than that, your offer of training and success in a new field should inspire loyalty that will last well beyond the contract agreement. You have invested time, money, and faith in this individual — that means something to most people.

Many carriers are willing to budget considerably more money per employee on information technology than what they plan to spend on employee training. Considering the dire straits of the driver pool today, a better strategy might be to invest more into cultivating drivers through an educational institution or apprentice program rather than hoping a solid but out-of-work driver comes looking for work.

For more ideas on hiring and keeping good drivers, download our whitepaper Strategies for Overcoming the Driver Shortage — Creating, Attracting and Retaining Quality Drivers.


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