Driver shortage or truck surplus?

Posted: 27 Feb, 2019 by Mark Montague


Categories: Trucking Industry Trends

Tags: CarrierBroker

You’ve likely heard reports that there’s a shortage of drivers in the trucking industry. There have also been reports that a record number of heavy-duty truck orders from last year is creating a capacity surplus.

So, which is it? How can we have a surplus of trucks and a shortage of drivers?  It can't be both, can it?

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I am NOT much of a believer in the driver shortage. Or to rephrase – we can say emphatically that the trucking industry always has a need for highly competent, service-oriented, safe drivers.

Driver turnover was lower last year, as the industry responded with the need for more drivers by offering higher wages. But part of the issue is that, when trucking goes through slow periods and prices drop, some of the really good drivers leave the industry for other opportunities.

The challenge for the trucking industry is finding a way to compete with other industries. How do we keep those employees that other types of businesses also want to hire?

Which leads me to this thought: What other job requires you to drive somewhere and sit for hours for zero pay? If there was a federal rule that for all the time spent sitting, while on duty, drivers had to be paid an hourly wage then I think keeping qualified candidates would be a lot less daunting. And that would translate into better pay and working conditions for all segments of trucking.


DAT load boards provide the largest and most trusted digital freight marketplace in the trucking industry, with more than 256 million loads and trucks posted annually, plus insights into current spot market and contract rates based on $60 billion in real transactions.


Leave your comments

  • profile

    Michael Blosser

    • 3/1/2019 6:24:54 PM

    No shortage of drivers. The shortage is in driver pay!

    Reply 1 comment
  • profile


    • 3/6/2019 10:39:13 AM

    there is definitely to many trucks when there is 6 loads for every truck now how dose that make a driver shortage. i have been in the business for 43 years as a o/o and run a small fleet of 6 trucks .There is so many trucks on the road that the rates have drop more this year then last year at this time and more the year before. pretty soon we will be trucking just for something to do. I just called on a load we have done every year for the last 3 years and the rate has gone from 1150.00 to 800.00 they offered to me today. If we are short of anything it's common since......

    Reply 2 comments
  • profile

    Aidan B Molloy

    • 3/7/2019 8:56:54 AM

    I have to agree, there is no shortage of drivers just big trucking companies that have committed themselves to buying bunches of trucks that are sitting around, I have a friend that just joined a new company and he got a new truck, it was a 2016 KW with no miles that was sitting in a local yard with bunches more. The otherside to all this is that industrie just does not care, that's why there is a push for younger drivers to come into trucking, as an O/O rates have tumbled to crazy numbers, I was offered a rate 89 cents a mile from NJ-CA, brokers are becoming more greedy paying out 45 days or more which starts to ring alarm bells it should be 25 days from BOL received which would be an avg payout of 33 days, if companies can do quick pay for a fee then they can pay earlier. The load boards are covered with bad loades with no to little money in them because of brokers desperate to earn a quick buck and hope there is some fool out there to move it (and there are) how different would it be if there was just a base rate of a $1.30 a mile, how would the industry change knowing that an O/O can at least depend on that rather than fight over the phone and ask "Please sir, just a little more" it's horrible but know matter how much we stand up waving our fists and shouting allowed there is nobody there to listen, it falls on deaf ears or drifts of into darkness, in other words trucking is broken and the cracks are getting wider!!

    Reply 2 comments
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DAT operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America. Transportation brokers, carriers, news organizations and industry analysts rely on DAT for market trends and data insights derived from 179 million freight matches in 2017, and a database of $45 billion of market transactions.

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