The American trucking industry had a good year in 2015, and all signs indicate an even better 2016. The industry will ship more tonnage, and for most carriers it will be a profitable year. According to Trucker News, “This has been a “good year — not great” for most trucking companies in the U.S., and 2016 is looking to be as good or even “slightly better.”

The Bigger Picture

The trucking industry impacts every business in America large and small. It not only affects businesses, but every single citizen of the USA depends on trucking. The trucking industries ups and downs may be one of the best indications of our overall economy. Trucking directly affects deliveries of food, medicine, and fuel along with every consumer product imaginable. How trucking goes is how America goes. The good news is the outlook for trucking in 2016 looks good. The bad news is, if we, and I mean all of us, don’t support trucking it will not stay there.

How Big is Trucking?

Just in case you’re not certain trucking impacts your life, think about these statistics.

  • Nearly 9 million people are employed in trucking and related industries. UPS alone employs 60,000 workers.
  • There are more than 2 million tractor trailers on the Americans Highways being operated by 3.5 million drivers.
  • There are 1.2 million trucking companies in the USA logging more than 432 billion miles per year.

*Statistics from TruckingInfo.net

Shortage of Trucking Industry Employees

The trucking industry is short drivers, technicians, and mechanics. Without drastic measures, this trend will continue and grow, which affects us all. With a shortage of qualified employees comes higher shipping costs and slower delivery.

Drivers

Last year, the industry was short 38,000 drivers meaning that in just one year, the number is projected to increase by nearly 10,000 drivers, according to ATA. Industry growth and a retiring workforce threaten to increase the driver shortage to as high as 175,000 by 2024 if the current trend holds. – Heavy Duty TruckingInfo.com

How to Support Trucking – Enhancing the truck driver position begins by changing the false perception of drivers as redneck cowboys ramrodding their trucks down the backroads of America. Today’s drivers are highly skilled, trained professionals from all walks of life. If you want to help, share good news about trucking, and tell people about the opportunities in the industry. In-house training, competitive pay, wellness programs, flexible scheduling can all be used to make driving more attractive to minorities, women, and millennials.

Technicians

Drivers aren’t the only area where trucking is short in personnel. Technicians and mechanics are in short supply today and the trend, if unchanged, shows no signs of stopping. As trucks become more and more sophisticated, qualified technicians will be in high demand and short supply. It could come to the point in the next few years where trucks and trailers are taken off the road and parked due to the inability to keep up with service and repairs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, trucking will need to recruit 67,000 new technicians by 2022 due to growth or to replace men and women currently working in the industry. That doesn’t include the more than 75,000 new diesel engine specialists BLS anticipates will be needed by 2022. – Trucking Technician Shortage

How to Support Trucking – If you know young people searching for a career who are good problem solvers and enjoy working with their minds and hands send them this. US Dept. of Labor Diesel Service Technicians

Our Infrastructure is Falling Behind

You don’t have to drive far to realize our highways and bridges are not being maintained to the levels required. Not only are they not being maintained they’re falling into disrepair that borders on becoming dangerous. For more than 30 years, they’ve been getting worse not better. We’re not investing the funds needed to maintain our infrastructure let alone improve it. Poorly maintained roads impact trucking adversely. Here in Indiana we recently had a Bridge Closed on I 65 – IN.Gov. For more than a month drivers were routed off the highway. Trucks were slowed, which adds to shipping costs and that’s something we all pay for.

…the nation’s state of good repair and preventive maintenance backlog for transit is at an all-time high of $86 billion, and that it is growing by an estimated $2.5 billion each year.  An additional $8.2 billion over current spending levels from all levels of government is needed annually to spend down the current backlog over the next 20 years. – US Department of Transportation

How to Support Trucking – Let your voice be heard. Stand behind federal, state, and local initiatives to fund infrastructure repair and improvement. Is it Time to invest in our Highways? Supporting infrastructure maintenance should transcend politics. It affects everyone. Not only in our personal commutes but also in how it impacts trucking. Grow America Highway Bill

Stand Up and Be Counted

On paper, the immediate outlook for trucking looks good. When the numbers are crunched they show a growing and dynamic industry, but there’s more to the story. We don’t want to cry wolf, but if all of us don’t support trucking by encouraging young people to consider a career in trucking, sharing a positive image of the industry, and supporting infrastructure maintenance, all the good predictions can vanish. Do your part—support trucking.