Trucks drive America. Without the nation’s fleet of two million tractor-trailers transporting billions of dollars’ worth of goods all throughout the year, rain or shine, America’s economy would grind to a halt. So, in a very real sense, the health of the economy depends in no small part on the health of the trucking industry.
That industry, however, is facing a few issues that have to be addressed if the nation’s trucking fleet and its legions of truckers will continue to push the economy forward.
Issue #1: Trucker Shortages
The first issue that has to be addressed is the trucker shortage.
According to recent estimates from the American Trucking Associations, America needs 63,000 more drivers than it currently has. Truckers today are also getting older; the average age of a trucker is 49, a number that has been climbing for years.
There needs to be a steady supply of new recruits into the trucking industry, but unlike many jobs, you can’t drive across state lines until you turn 21. The ATA, among other industry leaders, has been lobbying for lowering that limit to 18, which would open the profession up to a wider pool of applicants.
Issue #2: Rising Load Prices
In part due to a trucker shortage, and in part due to higher demand from companies like Amazon, load prices have been on the rise. That’s because there isn’t enough capacity even in the form of trucks and truck technicians to keep the vehicles operating.
Trucking companies want higher load prices, but when they get too high, according to industry experts and economists, customers start looking to other transportation modes that might be more cost-efficient.
Issue #3: Crumbling Infrastructure
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation’s infrastructure – on which truckers rely to travel – is falling apart.
Our country’s bridges, interstate highways, and roads are crumbling, and so far, politicians at the federal level have done little about it. That’s bad news for truckers, whose livelihoods depend on being able to get from point A to point B and everywhere in between quickly and efficiently.
A $1 trillion infrastructure bill has been proposed, but it doesn’t look like it’ll get anywhere in 2018 and probably won’t be seriously considered until 2019 at the earliest. And even that kind of massive bill may not completely solve the infrastructure problems the nation faces.
The trucking industry is resilient and will keep serving as the backbone of America’s economy, but for it to continue to thrive, it’ll have to progress and resolve these key issues that demand attention.
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