With the driver shortage continuing to climb to the top of motor carrier concerns, ATRI has released a new report that highlights a challenging future for the trucking industry based on demographic data and a dramatic shift in the age of the industry’s driver workforce.
ATRI’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that the trucking industry is disproportionately dependent on employees 45 years of age or older, many of whom will retire in the next 10-20 years. Complicating this is a sharp decrease over the past 20 years in the number of younger drivers that make up the industry, particularly those under 35.
Distribution of Employees 20 Years of Age and Older
One of the challenges highlighted by the study is the lack of vocational education offering for high school students to introduce them to a career in trucking. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, less than 30 percent of high schools nationwide offer any type of trade and industry transportation vocational courses. Further exacerbating the issue is the gap between high school graduation and CDL eligibility.
The results of this research prompted ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC) to rank two companion studies on younger driver issues as part of its 2015 top research priorities list. The first, Getting Younger Drivers in the Driver’s Seat, will focus on increasing the trucking industry’s vocational presence and examine the potential for a Graduated Commercial Driver’s License (GCDL).
The second, Younger Driver Assessment Tool, is designed to develop a screening tool to assess younger drivers that possess the cognitive decision-making attributes of mature, safe drivers. Once the tool is developed and validated, it then could be used to identify a pool of younger drivers for a GCDL pilot test involving commercial drivers 18-20 years old.
While finding ways to safely bring younger drivers into the industry is one potential solution to the growing driver shortage, the industry must also address a number of other challenges that make it difficult to retain the current driver population and recruit additional new entrant drivers.
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ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501 (c) (3) not-for profit research organization. The Institute’s primary mission is to conduct transportation research with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system.