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The trucking industry driving shortage has been problematic for years, as the number of people joining the industry dwindles. According to the American Trucking Association’s most recent estimates, there are over 60,000 driver vacancies needed to fill that gap. Furthermore, it estimates that there is a potential shortage of over 100,000 drivers in the next five years.

Now, for the third year in a row, the driver shortage has been named as trucking fleets’ topmost concern in the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) annual Top Industry Issues report. Commenting on these findings, ATA President and Chairman Barry Pottle acknowledged that while 2019 was a great year for the industry overall, there were still “some challenges in 2019, [with] finding and retaining qualified drivers remain[ing] at the top of the list for [the] industry.”

The growing trucker shortage has the potential to impact more than just the timely delivery of Amazon Prime orders. It also could impact road safety in a number of ways. Overloaded trucks, which are often necessary to compensate for the lack of available drivers, makes it harder for truckers to navigate the road safely and increasing the risk of brake failure. The shortage can also cause unrealistic work schedules for truckers trying to meet the demands of the industry, which means more overworked, fatigued drivers on the road. On top of that, some trucking fleets have opted to loosen their requirements for hiring drivers, filling the vacancies with what used to be considered under-qualified drivers. With inexperienced drivers being With a U.S. Department of Transportation report finding that truckers with less than five years of experience are 41% more likely to cause a traffic crashes, this is understandably alarming news.

Are Female Truckers the Solution?

Two U.S. senators, Kansas Republican Jerry Moran and Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, recently introduced a bill to create a Women in Trucking Advisory Board with the intention of identifying and addressing the reasons few women join the field. According to the bill, women today make up less than 25% of the trucking industry workforce and less than 7% of truck drivers. The bill also notes that female truckers are 20% less likely than their male counterparts to cause an auto accident, indicating that a higher percentage of female truckers could boost safety even more than simply filling the vacancies.

Including women is just one potential way to start filling the truck driver vacancies in the industry. Ultimately, it will likely take a number of efforts to address the shortage. It is important for these efforts to happen soon, as the trucker shortage comes with multiple potential public safety issues.

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