Trucking ‘in trouble’ if it doesn’t solve the payroll problem for drivers

Updated Sep 9, 2018

The following well-considered note comes by way of reader Peter Harrigan, responding in part to the blizzard of mainstream reports on a “driver shortage” that have risen in the wake of tight trucking capacity, itself engendered by a confluence of factors from the boost in economic activity to the FMCSA’s electronic logging device mandate and more. While there have been winners in trucking as a result, including independent owner-operators able to take advantage of tight conditions on the spot market, too seldom have company and other drivers been among them, Harrigan suggests. 

I’ve been a car hauler for 32 years and in the last three years, I’ve been told of the “driver shortage” yet to come. Looking at the big picture, it’s not a driver shortage, it’s a payroll shortage. If UPS is paying $35-plus an hour with benefits and a pension program and has no problem getting drivers, then there’s no shortage.

If all trucking companies started paying that rate, the millennial would be flocking to this industry. I’m watching car-haul coming to a head with not enough drivers, and we can’t get them. Yards are packed with new cars, and the only ones moving are from the manufactures who will pay top dollar. Soon manufacturers like GM and Nissan will not make their model year, which affects the pipeline for others’ vehicles.

It’s just a matter of time until Joe Consumer won’t be able to order a new car without major shipping fees — or waiting forever. I have a friend in the New York area who tried to by a Silverado. After two months of waiting, he gave up.

To save trucking, payroll is the key. This is a lifestyle that needs to attract young people in order to survive. Without payroll increasing and raising an eyebrow or two, this industry is in trouble. –Peter Harrigan, Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Recent and more distant coverage of the dynamic Harrigan describes from Overdrive: