Understanding the Truck Driver Shortage in 2023

The trucking industry, an essential backbone of modern economies, has been confronting a growing truck driver shortage for over 15 years. With a deficit of approximately 80,000 drivers in the US and 25,000 in Canada, this crisis has the potential to impact entire supply chains, causing disruptions in food, medical supplies, and beyond. But what lies at the heart of this shortage, and how can it be resolved? In this blog post, we will explore the factors contributing to the truck driver shortage, the current efforts to address it, the role of technology in solving the issue, and strategies for attracting and retaining drivers.

Key Takeaways

  • The truck driver shortage is caused by low wages, inadequate benefits and demanding working conditions.
  • The trucking industry is attempting to address the issue through incentives and recruiting underrepresented groups.
  • Technology can help alleviate the shortage but must be carefully considered due to risks of job displacement, while increasing wages & fostering a healthy work/life balance are key strategies for attracting & retaining drivers.

The Reality Behind the Truck Driver Shortage

trucker, sunrise, nature

The truck driver shortage is a multifaceted issue, with numerous factors contributing to the problem. Remuneration that is insufficient, inadequate benefits, and arduous working conditions are some of the key factors driving truck driver shortages.

Experienced drivers are leaving the profession at an unsettling rate, and recruiting new ones has become a struggle for the trucking industry, leading to a persistent increase in driver turnover rates. With larg59,684 leets of trucks left idle in parking lots due to a lack of drivers, the trucker shortage continues to exacerbate.

Low Pay and Poor Benefits

A significant challenge faced by many truck drivers is the financial burden of driving a truck. The high costs of living on the road hinder drivers from saving for the future or establishing a financial safety net, causing low pay and inadequate benefits to become significant sources of dissatisfaction. The median pay for a truck driver as of May 2022 stands at $49,920 annually or $24.00 hourly according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is often not enough to justify the challenges of the job. As a result, many drivers leave their positions in search of better pay and benefits.

Moreover, revenue-based enforcement states can further diminish drivers’ overall remuneration, as penalties are deducted from their wages, even if these penalties are not necessarily warranted. This creates additional financial strain on drivers and contributes to the growing dissatisfaction within the profession.

Working Conditions and Lifestyle Challenges

The profession of truck driving often involves long hours, hazardous work conditions, and limited family time, which contributes to its unattractiveness and the challenges of the trucking lifestyle. Spending long hours on the road not only affects drivers’ personal life but also their health. Truck drivers are often afflicted with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Inadequate sleep can lead to cognitive impairment, such as decreased alertness, impaired decision-making, and memory problems, which can jeopardize the safety of the driver and other motorists.

These challenges add to the difficulty the trucking industry faces in attracting potential drivers, further exacerbating the ongoing driver shortage. Addressing these lifestyle challenges is crucial for retaining existing drivers and attracting new ones to the profession.

Addressing the Shortage: What the Trucking Industry Is Doing

semi-trailer, truck, road

In an attempt to address the driver shortage, the trucking industry has been focusing on recruiting underrepresented groups like women, younger drivers, and foreign drivers, while also offering incentive packages to interstate drivers.

Nevertheless, the trucking industry’s resistance to hourly driver pay stands as a significant barrier to attracting and retaining drivers.

Recruiting Women, Younger Drivers, and Foreign Workers

The trucking industry is actively targeting underrepresented groups like women, younger drivers, and foreign workers in order to benefit from a larger and more diverse workforce. Some companies employ immigrants who are willing to accept lower wages and limited benefits, while others focus on attracting younger drivers by offering travel opportunities, high salary potential, and promoting trucking as a career path.

Organizations that promote inclusivity and diversity within the trucking industry include:

  • Women In Trucking Association
  • Minority Professional Truckers Association
  • Next Generation in Trucking Association
  • LGBT Truckers
  • Veterans In Trucking

These initiatives play an integral role in bridging the workforce gap and tackling the driver shortage.

Incentive Packages and Resistance to Hourly Pay

Incentive packages offered by trucking companies can include:

  • Guaranteed payments
  • Increased wages
  • Performance bonuses
  • College tuition assistance
  • Cross training opportunities
  • Safe driver catalogs
  • Sign-on bonuses
  • Comprehensive benefit packages

These packages aim to encourage new drivers with a commercial driver’s license to reach their highest potential and enhance overall performance in areas such as safety and efficiency, while also ensuring they maintain the necessary requirements for their driver’s license.

However, there is resistance to hourly pay in the trucking industry, largely attributed to the fact that truckers have traditionally been paid by the mile, exempting them from the Fair Labor Act which would have mandated hourly pay. Furthermore, there is an apprehension that paying drivers by the hour may not accurately reflect the amount of time and effort they put into their work, including waiting times and delays. This ongoing resistance to hourly pay poses a considerable obstacle in the recruitment and retention of drivers.

The Role of Technology in Solving the Truck Driver Shortage

board, electronics, computer

Technology harbors the potential to significantly address the truck driver shortage. Self-driving trucks and enhanced driver experience tools could provide a solution to the ongoing crisis.

Yet, deploying self-driving trucks carries its own set of challenges and limitations, including:

  • Impacts on employment
  • Legal and liability issues
  • Technological limitations
  • The unregulated nature of the industry

Self-Driving Trucks

Autonomous trucks could revolutionize logistics and alleviate the driver shortage by automating long-haul deliveries. While self-driving trucks are not yet a reality on the roads, their potential advantages include:

  • Enhanced safety
  • Heightened efficiency
  • Decreased costs
  • Enhanced customer service

Despite these advantages, the deployment of self-driving trucks comes with potential risks, such as the possibility of accidents, job displacement, and increased cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Tackling these challenges is essential to harness the potential of autonomous trucks in addressing the driver shortage.

Improving Driver Experience with Technology

Technology can also be used to improve the overall experience for truck drivers, making the profession more appealing. Examples of such technologies include smartphone applications for navigation and communication, advanced driver safety technologies, and comfort-enhancing technologies in trucks.

In-cab technology advancements, such as:

  • In-cab cameras to monitor driver behavior
  • Driver apps and dash cam technology to discourage distracted driving
  • AI technology that automatically adjusts personalized settings for seats and mirrors

These technologies, along with mobile apps that assist in daily operations, can provide convenience, reduce paperwork, and enhance communication and collaboration within the industry, thus making the job more appealing.

Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Truck Drivers

beach, family, fun

A multifaceted approach that tackles the root causes of the driver shortage is required to attract and retain truck drivers. This includes increasing wages, fostering a healthy work-life balance, and promoting inclusivity and diversity within the industry.

Increasing Wages and Benefits

Higher wages and comprehensive benefits can significantly help attract and retain drivers. With the salary of truck drivers in the United States ranging widely in the realm of $32,000 to $95,000 annually, increasing wages would not only make the profession more appealing but also provide a sense of job security and incentivize drivers to stay with a company.

Moreover, offering robust 401(k) plans and comprehensive benefits packages can make the trucking profession more attractive to potential drivers. These benefits may include:

  • Health care coverage
  • Paid time off
  • Wellness options
  • Coverage for dependents

By providing these benefits, companies can attract and retain talented drivers in the trucking industry.

Fostering a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Promoting a better work-life balance is essential for the physical and mental well-being of truck drivers. Some ways to achieve this include:

  • Reducing road time and increasing time spent at home
  • Allowing drivers to spend more time with their families
  • Giving drivers the opportunity to attend to personal matters
  • Encouraging drivers to maintain a healthier lifestyle

By implementing these strategies, trucking companies can help improve the overall well-being of their drivers.

Addressing the lifestyle challenges of truck drivers can enhance the appeal of the profession and elevate driver satisfaction, thereby aiding in resolving the driver shortage.

Promoting Inclusivity and Diversity

Actively promoting diversity and inclusivity within the industry can help attract a wider range of potential drivers. The truck driving industry has seen a considerable increase in minority truck drivers, rising from 26.6% in 2013 to 40.4% in 2018, as a result of promoting inclusivity and diversity.

Organizations that promote inclusivity and diversity within the trucking industry include:

  • Women In Trucking Association
  • Minority Professional Truckers Association
  • Next Generation in Trucking Association
  • LGBT Truckers
  • Veterans In Trucking

These initiatives play an integral role in bridging the workforce gap and tackling the driver shortage.

The Impact of the Truck Driver Shortage on Supply Chains

truck driver, eighteen, startup

The truck driver shortage has significant impacts on supply chains, particularly in the food and medical sectors. Disruptions in these supply chains can lead to consumer panic, hoarding, and civil unrest, as people might struggle to access essential goods and services.

As the driver shortage continues to worsen, the industry could require up to 160,000 drivers by 2028. Addressing the truck driver shortage is not only vital for the trucking industry, but it also impacts the stability of supply chains and the collective wellbeing of the nation.


In conclusion, the truck driver shortage is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to resolve. Addressing the root causes, such as low pay, poor benefits, and challenging working conditions, is essential for attracting and retaining drivers. The trucking industry’s efforts to recruit underrepresented groups, offer incentive packages, and introduce technological advancements can play a vital role in solving the driver shortage.

However, a more significant focus on increasing wages, fostering a healthy work-life balance, and promoting inclusivity and diversity within the industry is necessary to ensure a stable and sustainable future for the trucking profession and the essential supply chains on which our society depends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a shortage of truck drivers now?

There is a shortage of truck drivers due to the stress, physical deprivation, and loneliness that comes with the job, a wave of retirements, lifestyle issues associated with being away from home for long periods, low pay and benefits, and an aging workforce.

Is there still a truck driver shortage 2023?

Despite a projected 20% decrease in truck driver shortages between 2022 and 2023, the economy is expected to slow early in the year and demand will likely soon rise again, meaning there is still a potential for a truck driver shortage in 2023.

How many truck drivers in us?

There are more than 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States.

What are the main factors contributing to the truck driver shortage?

The truck driver shortage is primarily caused by low wages, lack of benefits, and difficult working conditions.

How is the trucking industry addressing the driver shortage?

The trucking industry is taking a multifaceted approach to address the driver shortage, including recruiting underrepresented groups, providing incentive packages, and utilizing technology.

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