Why No One Wants to Be a Truck Driver Right Now

The supply chain is suffering from a truck driver shortage. Why does the life of a longhauler not appeal to anyone anymore?
Written by Andrew Koole
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Sep 27, 2022
A lot of factors created the current supply chain crisis, but one key issues has been the shortage of
commercial truck
drivers. Right now, the U.S. needs at least 80,000 more truckers in order to get things moving at proper speeds again.
With the low entry cost and potential to make good money right now, you might wonder why people don’t want to join the
trucking industry
. The answer is actually more complicated than it seems.
From the structure of the industry to the rights of workers, everything seems to be getting in the way of solving the issue.
took a deep dive into all of this to get you up to speed.

Pre-pandemic problems for the trucking industry

COVID-19 certainly put a wrench in the trucking industry, but it wasn’t all pie in the sky before the pandemic. The life of a truck driver was already rife with issues.
Part of the problem was the result of legislation from the late 1970s. Before that, the trucking industry was highly regulated. That gave it stability, but it also made it difficult for newcomers to make money. 
Loosening the rules turned the industry on its head. While it took little more than a special
driver’s license
and $150,000 to start a career, the business itself became subject to boom-and-bust waves that made it vulnerable to scams and poor environments for workers.
That, in turn, encouraged truck drivers to jump from employer to employer in search of the best per-mile pay rate, further destabilizing the industry.

The not-so-glamorous lifestyle of a truck driver

You can’t blame truck drivers for their lack of loyalty to employers. For one thing,
says about 90% of them are independent contractors. 
Most truck drivers choose the independent route because of the freedom it gives them to choose the hauling jobs they want in the hours that work for them. The cost of the truck and
commercial truck insurance
look like the only barriers to a lucrative career.
But besides foregoing the protections and benefits of employment, being a contractor also opens them up to work-to-own scams that tie them to a company’s schedule without any protection or full ownership of their
semi trucks
. In some cases, truckers even lose money on the job through these schemes. 
All that chaos, on top of the time away from home and long hours on the road, doesn’t make for a very appealing profession.

Big surprise—COVID made everything worse

All the fragmentation and trouble in the trucking industry listed above was already a problem before March 2020. But like most of our society’s weaknesses, the added pressure of the
made these problems to big to keep behind the curtain any longer.
The added volatility to the supply chain, coupled by the lack of support for safety concerns, was too much for truck drivers to bear. People left the industry in droves. 
Plenty of companies, including Amazon and Walmart, have tried to
attract more drivers
with signing bonuses and other perks, but so far, the uptick in truckers hasn’t come.
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