There’s a high demand for professional heavy haul drivers and it far exceeds availability. There are a variety of reasons for the shortage, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, more women are entering the workforce, but it’s still not enough to make up for the shortage.
Heavy Haul Drivers
The trucking industry has been sounding the alarm since the 1980s, leading many to disbelieve the claim and point to retention problems rather than a lack of drivers. There’s a perfect storm of issues that has led to the current situation.
The turnover rate for heavy haulers, and traditional drivers, is up to 90 percent in some areas. Many individuals are eager to become heavy haul drivers. However, entry level pay, demands of the job and working conditions are powerful deterrents.
One of the stumbling blocks for hiring heavy haul drivers is age limits. Currently, individuals have to be at least 21 to transport loads across state lines. Drivers below that age can move heavy haul loads within the state in which they live.
Drivers used to be able to make a decent living as a heavy haul driver, but wages at trucking companies often haven’t kept up with the rate of inflation. Depending upon the trucking company, drivers may be paid by mileage rather than for their highly specialized skills. Additionally, driving hours are restricted and individuals are only allowed to be on the road for a specific amount of time each day.
In recent years, an increasing number of heavy haul drivers are retiring and the situation was exacerbated by the pandemic. There’s also a segment of drivers that discover they’re not psychologically suited to the stress and singular life that’s common for heavy haulers.
They can be gone for days or even weeks at a time. They miss the time spent with family and friends and feel disconnected when they come home only to discover the world outside their truck has changed significantly during the interval.
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