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TCP National Survey Shows Driver Shortage Continues

CHATTANOOGA, TN — Transport Capital Partners (TCP) fourth quarter Business Expectations Survey showed that while there was a slight improvement in unseated trucks since August, the driver shortage continues to plague the trucking industry.

Seventy percent of carriers reported difficulty filling empty seats, TCP said. The number of carriers reporting unseated trucks in the 6 to 10 percent category rose from 10 percent to 18 percent, while the number reporting more than 10 percent unseated trucks dropped from 8 percent to less than 1 percent.

The decrease in the over 10 percent unseated category is more than likely due to a combination of factors, TCP said.“Carriers are aggressively recruiting and are opening more training slots, while the lack of extension of unemployment benefits is potentially encouraging people to seek jobs and training,” explained Richard Mikes, TCP partner and study leader.

Wage Expectations

Wage expectations in relation to what the annual salary must be in order to attract and retain drivers has shifted significantly since May, TCP said. Sixty-five percent of carriers now believe that wages must be more than $60,000 — up from 49 percent in May.

Mikes said that with the slight improvement in U.S. GDP, it is clear that there is a capacity crunch on trucks and drivers.

“Shippers and brokers," added Lana Batts, TCP partner, "are reporting that trucks have been harder to secure, and while rates have risen, carriers still tell us that ROI is not adequate nor keeping pace with costs."

The stronger than expected finish to 2011, noted both Mikes and Batts, brings ongoing challenges in 2012 to keep up and secure adequate rates to cover costs.

Balancing Acts

Balance is the keyword for 2012, TCP said: balancing trucks with loads, rates with costs, balancing the scarce supply of drivers to fill seats, and balancing the replacement of an aging fleet with decent returns on new and more expensive trucks.

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When perishable freight sits on the docks, driver pay will go up. When large factories shut down for lack of freight, then pay will go up. When people lose money, because nobody delivers the freight, then pay will go up. Until these things happen, pay will remain at the same chump-change wage that it has been at, and most everyone will pass on the job.


Sure, there's a HUGE shortage of fools who want to drive trucks for 22 cents a mile! Absolutely! Just like there's a huge shortage of $1.29 gasoline and $8,500 Cadillacs! Yes, I agree with you! Nobody is willing to sell you regular gas at just $1.29 a gallon, and nobody is willing to drive for just 22 cents a mile. When you need gas, you will pay the $3 to $4 a gallon that it sells for. And, when you want drivers, you will pay the $2000 per week that it takes to put a man (or woman) in a truck, and keep them there. Until then, you can always call Swift or Schneider and hope they have a fool willing to drive for nothing! Or, you can haul your OWN freight in your little red wagon! Think of all you will save tha way!


How disingenuous. There is no driver shortage, only a decent wage shortage. Everybody knows this, why do companies continue to lie about the cause of the shortage of drivers? Raise your wages, offer health insurance and a pension, and you'll have all the drivers you need. Duh.


Yes..40 CPM for driving OTR and when the wheels stop turning...at the "customer" we should receive hourly pay until the foot dragging high paid lumpers are finished. Hourly pay for ALL time consuming chores the slave boy must perform for FREE today..including paperwork, time talking with cops at the weigh station, breakdown, layover, waiting on loads and the mandatory 10 hour sleep break in somebody's parking lot or some side street. Walmart drivers are paid for Sleeper Time...why not all company drivers? How about some pay for meals??? The Millionaires dont have to "respect" us...Just PAY us for all the above metioned. The driver feel he is being RIPPED OFF because he is NOT being paid after the wheels come to a stop and he is. Hourly pay on TOP of milage pay plus meals perdiem would be a BEGINNING in holding a driver's interest in this industry. Fueling the truck should be paid by the hour, scaling a load..etc. Why should a road driver perform tasks for FREE? The owners of Schneider and Swift have become Billionaires listed in Forbes riches men...because the have obedient chumps working for FREE!


Hi ! When driver will be paid properly for what they do the shortage will disappear by itself , reason is very simple , these persons are definetly exploited by the companies and the whole economic system , tell me why a driver as to wait two hours before getting paid for is waiting time ! paid by mileage ( often by bird flight mileage) which is advantageaous for the company again, driver have so many laws and rules to respect which bring lots of responsibilites that many other trade does not have that and they get paid better !! common this job is often still seens as a job for lowers educated people wich is another bad stereotype , over and above that road condition all the time , other nice drivers et often many not so nice drivers , being there to received the sh.. that company gives when the guy is late ! being far from their family common wake up world they deserve a lot better than what they have right now . my 02 cents André


There is no shortage of truck drivers! There are many good drivers who choose not to drive truck because the wages do not correspond with all the policy/procedure, and rules and regulations that truck drivers are subjected to every day. Offer hourly pay for everything that the drivers do for your company and then respect them and let them get some time off at home a couple times a month and you will have plenty of drivers to work for you! And QUIT "filling empty seats"! Hire truck drivers, not warm bodies!!!

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