5 Key Problems Plaguing The Trucking Industry

Until a few weeks ago, everybody was talking about the “Trucker Shortage”. From news outlets to late-night hosts, all prominent figures spoke up about this issue. Even President Joe Biden highlighted the need for truckers in the country in his speech at the White House's Trucking Action Plan   “All of you here today are people our economy should be built around because you all — you all are the people who literally make it run,” he said.    Given this reality, if we are to overcome this trucker shortage and re-stabilize our economy, we can no more ignore the problems plaguing our trucking industry — especially the ones concerning truckers.    It’s now time to face the truth.      

Key Problem #1 - Long, Long Hauling Miles

  On average, a typical long-haul trucker pulls in about 400 to 700 miles a day, on the road. This adds up to about 125,000 miles per year. If you are having difficulty imagining just how much 125,000 miles is, know that it is enough to travel all around the world 5 times.    Such miles are necessary to meet the supply chain demands, and any delay in one part would mean a mess up in the whole system. As a result, truckers are expected to haul continuously for up to 10-14 hours at a stretch, with very minimal breaks in between. Most times, they aren’t even able to use bathrooms.    This leads to truckers developing awful physical and mental health, along with stress and fatigue. Longer driving hours without proper sleep lead to difficulty in concentration and focus, which ultimately increases the risk of accidents. Additionally, such long miles cause truckers to spend less and less time with their family, leading to unbalanced emotional health.        5 Key Problems Plaguing The Trucking Industry        

Key Problem #2 - Waiting Hours of the Trucking Industry

  A typical driver spends around 300 days per year on the road. That breaks down to 30-70 hours a week, including the time spent waiting to load and unload.    The average waiting hours of a typical trucker can extend up to 36 to 40 hours at a time. And because truckers get paid per mile, these waiting hours are seldom compensated. Companies generally allow a buffer of two to three hours for the customers to unload their goods, after which they start charging detention. Despite this, the driver doesn’t get paid for the waiting (detention) time.    Hence, the waiting time, which uses up a trucker’s available hours of the day, becomes an unavoidable burden for them to bear.        5 Key Problems Plaguing The Trucking Industry        

Key Problem #3 - Low Wages in Trucking Industry

  The average median wage for truck drivers in 1980 used to be around 110,000 dollars per year. But in 2020, this number was down to 47,130 dollars per year. This wage is nowhere sufficient or even comparable to the work ‌done by truckers.    And this is before the waiting hours, the overtime, and truck maintenance. Truckers are rarely paid for all these. Additionally, a lot of trucking companies misclassify drivers as independent contractors, hence evading the overhead costs of truck maintenance, gas, and fees from their heads.    The lack of unions that support and fight for truckers only adds fuel to the fire. Around 1983, union contracts covered over 40% of the US truck drivers. This number has now reduced to less than 10.1%, according to the Union Membership Industry Table of 2020.      

Key Problem #4 - Female Truck Drivers

  According to a New York Times report, only 7 percent of the total 300,000 to 500,000 over-the-road truck drivers in the US are female.    While trucking companies have made multiple attempts to increase the number of female recruits for local driving jobs, the efforts remain almost futile. This is in part due to the rampant sexism and misogyny present in the industry. Women truckers often have to deal with sexual harassment, lack of personal safety and personal hygiene, as well as the generally unhealthy lifestyle that comes with long-haul trucking.    Women truckers can be a great asset to trucking companies in nurturing and constructive environments.        5 Key Problems Plaguing The Trucking Industry          

Key Problem #5 - Non-Trucker Regulators

  The first step in resolving most of the above problems is better laws. And these laws are made and managed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As of 2019, not one of its four administrators was ever a truck driver.    They have never held a commercial driver's license or have a background in commercial driving. This happens in no other industry. For example, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is led by a former American Airlines pilot, who knows and understands the intricacies of the jobs that they are to regulate.    Without ever knowing the dangers of driving without proper sleep, the sorrow of staying away from your families for weeks, the frustration of being forced to work inefficiently, and more, how can you ever expect someone to regulate the trucking industry even well enough?       


  There is no shortage of people wanting jobs in the country. Trucking is still as glorious as it was before. It is just that the job conditions have gotten worse and worse. And until we fix these issues, we have no business demanding truckers to come back to their jobs or even trying to get younger truckers into it.    What is your opinion? Leave us a comment!    Visit our website to read more such interesting articles.