CRISIS: No Qualified Truck Drivers


Mainstream media seems to go into “truck driver shortage” blitz mode shortly after any political discussions occur on the nightly news about current job numbers and unemploymant rates.

Few people understand that favorable tax incentives, subsidies, state and local job training grant programs are incentives for truck driver training carriers to cash in. When you see these hysterical reports you should recognize that what is really going on is a positioning for a money grab.

There is no incentive to create qualified drivers, but there is an incentive to create turnover.

We have created a corporate welfare program for big trucking and this has sacrificed safety, good judgement,  ethical recruiting and contributes to high turnover. There is little accountability for the lack of retention. This is directly related to mis-management and corporate greed.

Very few qualified truck drivers ever emerge from training carriers , yet these same carriers reap rewards from favorable job programs, high interest tuition loans and selling novice drivers on lease owner operator situations where they are set up to fail from day one.

Qualified drivers begin with qualified truck driving candidates who are prepared for the challenge of living the life of a truck driver. Carrier trade groups like the American Trucking Association who continually report a shortage of “Qualfied” truck drivers take little responsibility that the training carriers they aggressively represent in Washington D. C. produce few qualified drivers , yet recruit many unqualified candidates. Any trainer who has quit training for fear of their life will atest to this.

Until initiative is taken to examine how a person off the street is sold the “dream” of becoming an “over the road” truck driver, which is an entry level position into the industry, this qualified driver safety issue cannot be resolved.

Poor management is the reason there is poor retention. Management is in charge of hiring and putting unqualified drivers on the road and keeping them there. If a truck driver trainer is assigned a student who is not learning, or that continues to have substance abuse problems during training they are often stuck with that person on their truck. Students are worth money to carriers in the form of government incentives to hire the disenfranchised, this is why some carriers target those who can be exploited rather than seek those who would make more qualified candidates.

Personality clashes between student and trainers are frequent. Trainers who have little more experience than the student they are teaching are often stressed , many are pressured into training because they were misled into the industry with salary expectations that are false.

Commission structures interfere with intelligent judgement in truck driver recruiting. It also interferes with a dispatchers judgement to push drivers to get more performance against fatigue or bad weather delays.

To retain qualified drivers, you need to treat them like qualified human beings and recruit them in the same manner. One size does not fit all.

This is especially true for Women who have proven they are reliable and responsible truck drivers.

Attracting Women is not the problem, retaining them past a poorly managed and monitored training period is the problem.

A lack of leadership to pave a clear path to success for Women and Men has been lacking in truck driver training and this is why most do not make it past one year in the industry.

Preparation is essential in training fleets that claim they have shortage of trainers who can or will train Women.  Men should understand that women truckers are not being represented accurately. This less than serious image hurts Women in male dominated industries where training requires living in highly intense quarters with no supervision.

A single woman does not equal a lonely woman, a lonely woman does not equal a single woman.

Women should not be encouraged to put their guards down as they enter training carriers. This should be apparent when you consider the massive CRST sex harassment allegations and understand this is not occuring in one isolated carrier. Carriers with low standards of personal conduct are havens for poor behavior. These entry level carriers have a revolving door of student truck drivers and this has not changed despite high profile litigation.

Carriers that receive training incentives from the government are not held accountable, taxpayers are not educated on the topic.This is the recipe that creates a reason to promote turnover, not retention.

If carriers are not producing qualified drivers but they are producing lawsuits for harassment, discrimination,  and high turnover in their training programs, perhaps the taxpayers should demand a review and revoke these funds to trucking companies that cannot make the grade to produce what they are being funded to deliver, Qualified Drivers.