The trucking industry is in dire need of new drivers. Companies are competing with each other to fill job openings by raising wages and adding benefits and incentives. However, fewer people are starting careers in truck driving, deterred by fears of automation or the age requirement for a commercial driver’s license.
There is no working demographic in the significant industries older than truckers. The average age of truck drivers is 55, and half of the workforce is between 45 to 65 years old. Trucking companies are incentivizing their drivers to postpone their retirements, but that comes with risks. Older drivers might not be as alert and have slower reaction times compared to when they were younger. The trucking industry is already facing a driver shortage. There has been a shortage for the past 13 years. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimate a lack of around 40,000. But with the impending retirement of older drivers, the industry will need 100,000 new drivers over the next ten years. The industry is desperate for new drivers, but certain factors are driving potential drivers away.
Robot Drivers Not Allowed
Automated trucks have widely been touted as the future for the trucking industry, and fear of robots or artificial intelligence (AI) taking over trucking is one of the reasons very few start careers in trucking. However, experts and industry leaders are quick to deny that future, stating that drivers will only be assisted and not replaced by any onboard AI. Computer programs that support their human counterparts have been in existence for years, most notably in commercial planes’ autopilot systems. These programs have not eliminated the need for actual pilots and driving on the road is more complicated than flying in the skies; there is virtually no traffic in the skies and planes generally follow a straight line. Driving is more complicated as there are other vehicles on the road, and drivers need to adjust to ever-changing road conditions. Onboard AI can function similar to a plane’s autopilot, taking over from the driver once the truck reaches long patches of highway.
A New Generation of Truckers
The trucking industry is doing its utmost to cultivate a new generation of truckers through higher wages, incentives, free training, and even signing bonuses. The rookie truck driver can earn $50,000 on his first year, shooting up to $60,000 or more in the next five years. Trucking companies will even pay for your training and provide a monthly allowance as you get your commercial driver’s license. However, the age requirement to cross state lines for truck drivers remains at 21. This age requirement has dissuaded graduates from going into trucking as they could start their career earlier in manufacturing or construction. There is a bill that seeks to lower the age requirement to cross state lines and allow younger truckers to join the workforce.
The trucking industry needs new drivers. Robots will not be taking over your jobs, and a starting salary of $50,000 will have you earning more money than college graduates.