Category Archives: Trucking News

Industry Tries to Address Nationwide Truck Driver Shortage as Workforce Ages

Karen Messier checked her mirrors, shifted into reverse and eased off on the white 2006 Freightliner’s clutch.

With Kirkwood Community College driving instructor Roger Smith walking alongside the tandem axle semi — attached to a 53-feet-long trailer hauling a simulated 15,000-pound load — Messier maneuvered the massive rig delicately through a pattern of orange parking cones.

The 47-year-old New Orleans native is one of eight students in Kirkwood’s four-week truck driving course trying to enter an industry starved for professional commercial drivers.

“There’s just so many different career choices, and that’s what I love about it,” Messier said. “It’s all where your priorities are.”

In need of potential drivers like Messier, local employers such as CRST International and Don Hummer Trucking supply Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with equipment and often send recruiters to the course’s later sessions in search of prospective employees.

CRST ranks No. 24 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Much of the nation’s truck driver shortage is fueled by the retirement of veteran drivers, coupled with a growing transportation industry. But at the same time, programs such as Kirkwood’s also struggle to find young new talent to meet industry needs.

“We don’t have students banging on our doors as fast as we have employers banging on our doors, so we’re doing everything we can to recruit to get students in here to fill the needs of our employers,” said Amy Lasack, Kirkwood’s senior director of corporate training. “I would say if you have a clean driving history, if you’re safe in the training we have here, then you’re pretty much guaranteed a job.”

The shortage

In 2014, the nation’s trucking industry was short about 38,000 drivers, according to a 2015 truck driving shortage analysis conducted by American Trucking Associations.

That drought was expected to reach nearly 48,000 by the close of 2015 and, if the trend holds, the shortage would reach almost 175,000 by 2024.

The report stated the trucking industry would need to hire an average of 89,000 new drivers per year over the next decade to address the shortage. The biggest factor is a workforce reaching retirement age. The median age of over-the-road truck drivers is 49, while the median for all U.S. workers is 42.

Meanwhile, the median age of private fleet drivers is 52 years old.

“The reality is, right now, there’s more drivers exiting than there are drivers entering,” said Brenda Neville, president and chief executive officer of the Iowa Motor Trucking Association, or IMTA.

While retiring drivers account for about 45% of the shortage, not far behind are added job opportunities to handle industry growth, which accounts for 33% of the shortage, according to ATA’s report.

“I think every trucking company in the country would hire as many drivers that showed up on any given time, assuming they’re capable and safe and meet the requirements,” said Chris Hummer, president of Don Hummer’s Trucking in Oxford. “I think it has to be about casting a wider net and attracting as many people to the industry as we can.”

ATA’s report also lists some possible changes to the industry that could help attract more drivers, such as pay increases, allowing more at-home time or improving the driver image.

While many perceive the job as days on the road, and some positions still include long hours, a growing network of distribution centers has reduced the distance many truck drivers now travel, according to the report.

Untapped workforce

Neville said one barrier to filling the shortage is due to a federal rule that prohibits commercial drivers under 21 years old from crossing state lines.

“There are 18-year-old drivers that are very confident and would be more than able to drive across state lines and the federal rule is not allowing them to do that,” Neville said.

A new study by the American Transport Research Institute, which conducts transportation-related research and represents more than 35,000 motor carriers across the country, is looking into the untapped workforce of 18- to 20-year-old drivers.

Rebecca Brewster, president and chief operating officer of the ATRI, said the study will identify the qualities and characteristics of professional veteran drivers who are around 35 to 40 years old.

Then Brewster plans to identify 18- to 20-year-old drivers with similar traits to place into a pilot program that would see them driving across state lines. If successful, the program could expand, she said.

“We miss folks who are coming out of high school who are looking for a driving career, but are dissuaded because they can’t drive outside the state they are in,” Brewster said. “I think that we would hope to demonstrate that this is a successful tool of finding who among that population of 18 to 20 year olds would be appropriate to put into that pilot test.”

Neville said the program could help build a case for adjusting the federal government’s age requirements for drivers crossing state lines.

In addition to younger drivers, the large majority of the nation’s truck drivers are men.

While women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, they comprise just 6% of all truck drivers, according to ATA’s report.

Attracting drivers

Back at Kirkwood, Chris Kula, transportation business liaison with the college’s Continuing Education Training Center, said the school’s driving program — which is certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute — averages at least six students per four-week class. That’s about between 75 to 90 students per year.

The average student is a mid-40s male, but the school is beginning to see more women drivers such as Karen Messier.

Kula, who last fall took Kirkwood’s four-week course, said the class is so much more than just learning to drive a big truck.

“I think the misconception I had was that this is just driving a truck,” Kula said. “It’s definitely a profession and a skill that is learned, and you have to be good at it.”

The course teaches driving skills, but also involves learning how to manage finances and eat healthy foods while spending days or weeks on the road.

In addition to trying to attract younger drivers and more women to the field, Kirkwood, this spring, launched its first four-week English-as-a-second-language class that acts as a preview course to the school’s truck driving program.

Kula said the course, which currently has seven students, likely will be available about four times a year, depending on demand.

But while employers and teachers try to attract more student drivers into the field, IMTA’s Neville said efforts also need to be made to simply redefine how the public views the American truck driver.

While every motorist remembers that one truck that cut them off in traffic, Neville said the industry should showcase successes and the importance of the industry.

“We have got to do a better job of just really elevating the importance of the industry and the value of the professional driver,” Neville said. “Everything that everybody gets is because of a truck driver.”

Story by Mitchell Schmidt @ Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.

Wal-Mart Asks Employees to Deliver Packages on Their Way Home



Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing a program that sends store employees to deliver online orders at the end of their shifts, a new push by the world’s biggest retailer to use its large physical footprint to match Inc.’s convenient options for web purchases.

Workers can opt in to earn extra money by making deliveries using their own cars. They’re assigned packages based on where they live so the route aligns with their commute home, the company said June 1 in a blog post. Wal-Mart didn’t specify how the employees will be compensated. The test began at three locations in Arkansas and New Jersey.

Wal-Mart ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

Wal-Mart is tapping into its 4,700 U.S. stores and more than a million retail employees as it seeks to redefine itself in an age of e-commerce dominated by Amazon, which offers delivery of some products in as little as an hour in some cities. Online spending will increase by 16% this year — more than four times the pace of overall retail — to reach $462 billion, according to EMarketer Inc.

About 90% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Wal-Mart, and the company is using those locations as shipping hubs to compete with Amazon on the last mile of delivery — the most expensive part of getting goods to customers. By using existing workers in their own cars, Wal-Mart could create a vast network with little upfront cost, similar to how Uber Technologies Inc. created a ride-hailing service without owning any cars.

“Imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work and the houses they pass along the way,” said Marc Lore, who took over Wal-Mart’s e-commerce operation last year after the retailer purchased his startup,, for $3.3 billion. “This test could be a game-changer.”

Many online orders in tests have been delivered overnight using store employees, Lore said, showing how the initiative could also be used to narrow delivery times.

The lines between internet and brick-and-mortar commerce are blurring as retailers — including Amazon — try to accommodate a variety of shopping preferences. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart offers free two-day delivery on millions of items to compete with Amazon’s standard delivery time. It also lets customers buy groceries online and pick them up at stores and offers discounts to online shoppers who pick up items at stores rather than having them delivered.

Amazon, meanwhile, has stepped up its experimentation with physical locations. It’s slowly opening physical bookstores in big cities around the U.S., which double as showrooms for Amazon gadgets such as its Kindle readers and Echo voice-activated speakers. The company opened two drive-in grocery pickup kiosks in its hometown of Seattle earlier this month, its first attempt to match the click-and-collect options rolled out by Wal-Mart and other big-box competitors.

By Spencer Soper @ Bloomberg News in association with Transport Topics

Trucking Industry Introduces Mascot, Calls for Name Submissions

Trucking Moves America Forward introduced its newest member, the trucking industry’s mascot, on May 18.

 The mascot is a smiling red, white and blue semi-truck with working head and tail lights and an “I love trucking” license plate. It will travel the United States spreading the word about trucking’s influence on the economy.

 But he or she is still nameless.

TMAF, along with its partner and largest financial supporter, Pilot Flying J, called on the industry to help name the mascot. Name submissions can be sent to, and the winning name will be announced at the beginning of July.

The mascot “is a great conversation starter,” said Wendy Hamilton, Pilot Flying J senior manager of sales marketing and a TMAF executive committee member. “It’s an integral part of the movement to help bring folks into understanding the knowledge of why trucking is so important.”

The mascot is part of the goal TMAF set when it started in 2013 — to spread the word about the economic impact of the trucking industry, Hamilton said.

 There are 3.5 million truck drivers and 7.3 million industry workers in the United States, which brings $726.4 billion in revenue to the country, said Kevin Burch, TMAF co-chairman and Jet Express Inc. president.

He said because one in 16 Americans is part of the trucking industry, creating positivity around the industry is critical. “Trucking, for probably the last 10 to 15 years, has gotten a really bad rap on image and we’re trying to change that,” he said. “Back in the ’60s we were the knights of the road. If you had a problem on the road, a truck driver, male or female, would stop and help and assist, change a tire and whatnot. Nowadays, if somebody has a car on the side of the road, if a truck driver stops they’re rolling up their windows, locking the door and calling 911. We need to get back to that simple mentality that we are good people that move America’s goods.”

He said much of the effort to change that mentality relies on image. That’s where the mascot comes in.

 “Out of sight out of mind,” said Burch, chairman of the American Trucking Associations. “We want to have this mascot so we can go to schools, events. We move America’s goods, but we move them safely, and that’s the story we want to tell. It’s an image thing, so this gives us the opportunity to do that.”

The trucking industry is facing a driver shortage, Burch said. Part of telling truckers’ stories includes sharing career opportunities.

 “We want to make our story known as to the careers we have,” he said. “Trucking Moves America Forward is for everyone in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re union or non-union, truck load or LTL. You’re a professional truck driver that makes a difference moving those goods.”

 Hamilton said the impact of a professional truck driver is something that American culture tends to overlook.

 “We see trucks on the road,” she said. “We understand that they’re a part of our daily lives, but I’m not sure they understand how integral that are to our daily lives. As a mom, when my child is sick, I can go to the store and pick up the medicine because a trucker brought it there.

“Without trucks, our country truly stops.”

By Courtney Roark

Knoxville News-Sentinel

One20: Nearly 60 percent of users still haven’t switched to e-logs

Trucker-focused app maker One20 concluded in a recent study that less than half of truck drivers using One20’s service still have not switched to an electronic logging device, though the compliance date is still more than six months away.

One20’s Vice President of Marketing Amanda Ford says 57 percent of drivers surveyed don’t use electronic logging devices, and that number jumps to 60 percent with drivers over the age of 45. While Ford says she believes more drivers will begin to comply as the Dec. 18 compliance date nears, she says cost and ease of implementation seem to be holding some drivers back.

One20 in March introduced its own ELD at the Mid-America Trucking Show — the F-ELD, a “bring-your-own-device” ELD.

One20 updates app, announces availability of trucker-focused tablet at TA/Petro stores

In its TopOne20 report released last week, the company outlined the best and worst of life on the road for truckers, along with how drivers spend their time and money when on the road. More than 3,000 drivers participated in the study, and Ford says the analytics from the study correlate well with other data collected from the 250,000-plus drivers that use One20’s app.

In addition to the information collected about ELDs and technology, the study also polled truckers on their favorite truck stop chains and restaurants. TA and Petro truck stops were the preferred travel center chain based on parking, clean facilities and good restaurants.

Subway restaurants were voted the best quick-serve restaurant, while Iron Skillet was voted best sit-down restaurant by the surveyed truckers.

One20 plans to release additional reports quarterly, with the next one coming in July.

Story by : Matt Cole at

What’s the Top Issue Facing the Trucking Industry in 2017?

The ELD mandate was the number-one issue on everybody’s mind in 2016 – not surprising, as we’re now only one year away from enforcement of mandatory electronic logging devices in every truck built since the year 2000.

The ATRI conducts this survey every year, and the 2016 edition had one new entry in the top 10: The cumulative economic impacts of regulations. That came in at number 3, behind the ELD mandate and Hours of Service rules, both of which also just happen to be regulatory concerns. The new entry bumped driver health and wellness out of the top 10.

Here’s the full top 10 from ATRI’s survey:

  1. ELD Mandate
  2. Hours of Service
  3. Cumulative Economic Impact of Regulations
  4. Truck Parking
  5. Economy
  6. CSA
  7. Driver Shortage
  8. Driver Retention
  9. Infrastructure / Congestion / Funding
  10. Driver Distraction

Truck parking jumped up two spots from the previous year’s list, and the ATRI recently completed an in-depth case study of truck parking shortages. The study focused on times when the demand for parking was highest — evenings and early mornings on weekdays — and observed that drivers who used ELDs tended to spend more time looking for parking than drivers who did not.

In other words, the ELD mandate could make the parking problem worse.

The ATRI parking study included some recommendations. Some examples are more flexible appointments with shippers/receivers, drivers shifting their hours of operation, and carriers paying their drivers’ registration fees when they use parking reservation systems.

Story By: Matt Sulivan at DAT

Will Autonomous Ships Be Great ?

Doing away with sailors will make the high seas safer and cleaner. It sounds like a ghost story: A huge cargo vessel sails up and down the Norwegian coast, silently going about its business, without a captain or crew in sight. But if all goes as planned, it’s actually the future of shipping. Last week, Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, a Norwegian maritime technology firm, and Yara ASA, a fertilizer manufacturer, announced a partnership to build the world’s first fully autonomous cargo containership.

Manned voyages will start in 2018, and in 2020 the Yara Birkeland will set sail all on its own. It’s the beginning of a revolution that should transform one of the world’s oldest and most conservative industries — and make global shipping safer, faster and cleaner than ever.
The commercial rationale for autonomous shims has long been clear. The U.S. Coast Guard has estimated that human error accounts for up to 96% of all marine casualties. A recent surge in piracy is a grim reminder that crews remain vulnerable (and valuable) targets for international criminals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the industry is facing a chronic shortage of skilled workers who want a career at sea. By one consultant’s estimate, moreover, carrying sailors accounts for 44% of a ship’s costs.

That’s not just salaries: Crew quarters, air-conditioning units, a bridge (which typically requires heavy ballast to ensure a ship’s balance) and other amenities take up weight and space that otherwise might be used for cargo. And that dead weight contributes to a bigger problem: Maritime shipping accounts for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. All this explains why eliminating a crew and its costs has been a longtime goal for companies and governments around the world.

The most advanced effort so far has come from Rolls-Royce Holdings, which rolled out a virtual reality prototype of an autonomous ship in 2014. According to the company, the ship will be 5% lighter, and burn up to 15% less fuel, than a comparable vessel with humans aboard.

That effort has been the subject of considerable skepticism — especially from seafarer unions who doubt that technology can replace experienced sailors, and note that the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency that oversees shipping, prohibits crewless operations. But what seemed impossible three years ago quickly is becoming reality. Most of the sensor technology for autonomous ships now is commercially available, and crucial collision-avoidance tools have been around in various forms since the early 1990s.

The Yara Birkeland is a modest but important step forward. Although it can be operated remotely by a pilot, it will be able to cruise on its own, using an array of sensors, cameras and navigation tools guided by sophisticated algorithms. Back on shore, an operations center will monitor its progress.

When it launches next year, with a fully electric power plant, the ship will transport fertilizer from Yara’s factory to ports about 16 miles away, thereby replacing 40,000 shipments a year that once had been carried by polluting diesel trucks. That short route will give the ship’s owners — along with regulators and other autonomous shipping aspirants — a first chance to see such a vessel in operation.

Such trips may soon become routine. Norway has designated the waters off of Trondheim as a test site for autonomous ships of all kinds, from container vessels to tugs. Earlier this year, Rolls-Royce announced that it expects autonomous containerships in international waters within 15 years. Other groups are working to do it sooner: One U.K. organization plans to have a solar-powered autonomous research vessel cross the Atlantic in 2019. Lloyd’s Register, the 250-year-old ship-classification group, already has issued guidance for crewless operations.

All this could potentially have enormous benefits for the shipping industry. Vast amounts of real-time data from the ships will allow fleet owners to optimize their routes — and profits — based on factors such as maintenance schedules, weather patterns, fuel prices and cargoes. Eventually, fleet owners might find themselves competing with the likes of and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. — major shippers with the big data operations and deep pockets necessary to integrate autonomous ships into their logistics operations.

For those companies, “all hands on deck” already means fingers on a keyboard or a joystick. Within a decade or two, the maritime shipping industry may well be thinking the same way.

Story by Adam Minter at Bloomberg News , published by Transport Topics