Truck Driver Shortages In The US And What It Could Mean For Safety

by The Roth Firm

In 2017, trucks carried approximately 70% of all goods shipped within the United States, and the industry is only growing.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) projects annual growth of the trucking industry to be approximately 3.4% until 2023.

As a result, the current truck driver shortage in the United States will continue and worsen, thereby increasing the impact of the recent truck driver shortage on the country’s already unsafe roadways.1

ATA projects that trucking companies would need to hire 900,000 additional drivers to keep up with the current booming economy!2

Truck Driver Shortages Rapidly Rising

Currently, truck driver shortage rates are rising rapidly, and it can be felt throughout the economy.

In 2014, the trucking industry was short 38,000 drivers, and the American Trucking Associations projected a 50,000 driver shortage by the end of 2017.3

If the shortage continues at this rate, it will rapidly grow to a 175,000 driver shortage by 2024.4

What that means is drivers being overworked and an increased risk of accidents.

Where Did All the Drivers Go?

Not just anyone can be a truck driver. Trucking companies have strict hiring requirements for truck drivers, causing a quality versus 
quantity issue.5

Here is an example of hiring requirements.

In 2012, 88% of trucking companies surveyed reported that most persons seeking employment as a truck driver were not qualified.6

What is preventing the qualified drivers from either staying employed as a truck driver, or preventing those who are actually qualified from seeking employment in this industry?

In answering this question, we should consider the following:

Age: The minimum age requirement to become a truck driver is 21 years old, while the average of a truck driver is 55 years old.7

Gender: The truck driving industry is male dominated. According to the Department of Labor, women comprise approximately 47% of the workforce, yet only 6% of all truck drivers are women.8

Working and Lifestyle Conditions: Because most truck drivers are assigned long routes and will not return home for multiple weeks at a time, driving a truck becomes more like a lifestyle rather than a job. Being stuck on the road for weeks is not most people’s ideal work schedule, and this lifestyle can cause fatigue and undiagnosed conditions like sleep apnea, among others.

Job Alternatives: With the economy on the rise and the job market increasingly improving, people seeking new employment are finding better alternatives than driving a truck.10 For example, with the age requirement being 21 years old to drive a truck, younger people find it more appealing to start a career in construction. Construction companies have increased, payroll, do not require extensive travel, and require less responsibility.11

Government Regulations: Although regulations are put in place to help increase safety of not only truck drivers, but drivers like you on the road, these regulations exacerbate the driver shortage as well.12

How to Fix the Shortage

As shown above, there are a lot of factors keeping potential truck drivers from entering the profession.

Here are a few ways that truck driving can become more appealing to the younger generation entering the workforce:

Increase Wages: One easy solution is to increase truck driver pay and increase benefit packages offered by trucking companies.13

Lifestyle Changes: By increasing the time drivers can spend at home, the negative “lifestyle” of spending more time in your truck than in your own home can dissipate.14 

Lowering the Minimum Age Requirement: By lowering the minimum age requirement from 21 years old to 18 years old, trucking companies could take advantage of persons entering the workforce to fill a large number of open positions.15

Diversifying the Industry: As noted above, truck driving is a male dominated industry. If trucking companies create programs to entice more women, veterans, and other minorities, they will be able to help bridge the gap in the massive driver shortage.16 

Self-Driving Trucks: With self-driving technology rapidly growing, tractor trailer trucks are not forgotten with this technology.17 Companies such as Tesla are rolling out self-driving trucks that are sure to attract more workers to this industry.

Revise Truckload Shipping Methods: The two main shipping methods: (1) On the Road shipping and (2) Full-Truckload shipping require more time on the road, which in turn creates a harder lifestyle for truck drivers.18

What Automobile Drivers Can Expect to See on the Road

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,311 trucks were involved in fatal crashes, generating a 26% increase since 2009.19

Some technology companies are trying to answer the need for increased safety.

In November 2017, Tesla released a fully electric semi truck that can haul 80,000 pounds and travel up to 500 miles before having to stop at a charging station. 20

This truck is not only efficient, but it can basically drive itself. Every truck is fitted with automatic braking and technology to make sure the truck stays in its lane.

With the Tesla semi truck going into production in 2019, Tesla believes that these standard autopilot innovations will decrease human error and increase safety for regular drivers on the highway like you and me.21

Our hope for the future is that trucking companies address truck driver shortage issues by implementing new ideas to attract and hire more drivers. Specifically, drivers that are highly qualified and are empowered to utilize all available technological advancements in order to improve the safety on our highways and roads.

References Used in Article:

1. Marshall, Aarian, Wired Magaine Online “What does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?” Pub. 11-17-17.

2 NPR,“Trucking Industry Struggles With Growing Driver Shortage,” Pub. Jan., 9, 2018.

3. TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE ANALYSIS 2015; Marshall, Aarian, Wired Magaine Online “What does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?” Pub. 11-17-17.


5. TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE ANALYSIS 2015; ATA Benchmarking Guide for Driver Recruitment & Retention

6. TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE ANALYSIS 2015; ATA Benchmarking Guide for Driver Recruitment & Retention 

7. ATAs Driver Shortage Report (2015).

8. ATAs Driver Shortage Report (2015).

9. NPR “Trucking Industry Struggles With Growing Driver Shortage” Pub. Jan., 9, 2018.

10. ATAs Driver Shortage Report (2015).

11. ATAs Driver Shortage Report (2015).

12. ATAs Driver Shortage Report (2015).

13. LTX Solutions “What is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.”

14. LTX Solutions “What is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.”

15. LTX Solutions “What is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.”

16. LTX Solutions “What is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.”

17. LTX Solutions “What is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.”

18. LTX Solutions “What is Causing the Truck Driver Shortage and How Can We Fix It.”

19. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,, Updated: Friday, April 7, 2017.

20. Marshall, Aarian, Wired Magazine Online “What does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?” Pub. 11-17-17.

21. Marshall, Aarian, Wired Magazine Online “What does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?” Pub. 11-17-17.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© The Roth Firm | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

The Roth Firm

The Roth Firm on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.