During a July 8 webinar, "Navigating Demand for Heavy Commercial Vehicles in an Economic Rebound," ACT Research President Kenny Vieth discussed some proposals surrounding driver health and fitness that he believes could make the driver shortage worse. Requirement of a medical examiner’s certificate, drug and alcohol testing, and higher insurance premiums are a few.
“The driver shortage situation is bad enough; the feds plan to make it worse,” he said, questioning the reason the president threatened to veto the 34-hour reset revision.
Veith further explained the impacts of the HOS 34-hour reset. Before a two-overnight reset, he said, traffic flows smoothly for carriers between 5 and 6 a.m., with a “modest” morning peak, and an afternoon peak from 3 to 5. Afterward, he explained, there is virtually no morning traffic between 5 and 6 a.m., with a sharp mid-morning peak, and then a significantly longer evening peak extending to 7 p.m.
“I don’t understand why the president wants to veto this,” he said. “It is certainly not helping those of us on the road or the truckers that want to get the freight delivered.”
“Truck driving has always been a hard job,” Vieth said. “We do believe freight is going to get delivered. Freight determines the driver demand, not the reverse.”
And, he explained, fleet managers have the ability to do something about a driver shortage – buy new trucks, pay drivers more, get drivers home more often. Vieth cited an NPR Planet Money map, which depicts truck driving as the most common job in 34 states in the U.S.
“The issue isn’t universal,” he said. “It’s difficult to find drivers for everybody, but the driver shortage is really centered in the long-haul regular route truck driver market.”
Private fleet drivers, he added, make $20k-$25k more per year on average than for-hire drivers, plus they get home more regularly.
Vieth also mentioned the “unfriendly demographics” that impact the driver shortage – the age requirement of 21 to obtain a commercial driver’s license juxtaposed with the lower turnout of new drivers compared to impending retirees.