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Analyst: Drivers Need to get a Life to Alleviate Shortage

Want to solve the driver shortage? Than look to addressing driver lifestyle issues, says one prominent industry analyst.

Speaking at session on the subject at TMW Systems’ annual user conference, John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., says driver pay is an obvious factor in the driver shortage, but as pay levels increase, the problem fleets have recruiting and retaining drivers goes beyond monetary compensation.

“The demand is not as price elastic as people think,” Heavy Duty Trucking magazine quoted him as saying.

Other factors contributing to the shortage include an aging population, micro management and regulation, and the lifestyle long haul drivers must lead.

While young people are less likely to be truck drivers, people coming out of high school who are in fact interested have not developed enough maturity or decision making skills to be given the keys to a large truck, says Larkin.

On top of multiple regulations drivers are faced with, the lifestyle long-haul truckers must lead discourages many from entering the profession, he added. Drivers endure poor sleeping conditions, they typically don’t eat well, and worst of all, much of their time is spent waiting for loads and shipping facilities and in traffic.

Larkin said there probably isn’t a single-bullet solution to solve the shortage, but a combination of changes and initiatives, such as a more flexible and transparent compensation system or modified mileage scheme.

Fixing lifestyle would go a long way, he added – providing drivers with some nights in a motel to improve their sleep, offering a more social environment for drivers, promoting and supporting healthier lifestyles, and most of all, getting drivers home on a regular basis.

Larkin said some companies are using relays successfully to get drivers home more regularly, but that can’t work in all instances due to the irregular-route nature of the truckload business.

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