SI has regularly blogged about the driver shortage and the dire predictions that the shortage in the US alone could top 100,000 drivers in a few years. (See this classic post on how new estimates put the driver shortage at 240K drivers, for example.)
A lot of reasons have been given for this including, but not limited to:
- low wages
truck drivers make an average wage over 4K less than per capita income and 13K less than median household income
- poor working conditions
truck drivers often have to be behind the wheel up to 14 hours a day (sometimes sitting in traffic or in lines to load/unload for over half of that), six days a week, and they don’t often get to eat well
- poor healthcare
as they have the worst plans possible, can’t keep regular appointments, and can’t always see a doctor on the road
not only do truck drivers often have to sleep in their cabs in unsafe conditions, risk getting robbed on the road, but 12% of all work-related deaths in the US are from truck drivers in auto accidents
But is the real reason that we have a driver shortage perception and stereotypes? When you get down to it, almost 95% of truck drivers are men. Even though the stereotype of the driver as a brawny, macho man dressed in a lumberjack shirt has fallen by the wayside, driving is still very much a man’s world. And even if the majority of drivers are not perpetuating the man’s world stereotype, they certainly aren’t doing anything to counter it. Consider this article over on the BBC from late fall that asked Why Don’t Women Become Truckers?
All over the world it’s the same – a woman driving a lorry gets funny looks and has to listen to unfunny jokes.
How are we ever going to solve the driver shortage if 51% of the population doesn’t want the job?
In other words, the real reason for the driver shortage may be the industry’s own fault.