I’ve been in the trucking business since 1986, a majority of that time as an owner-operator/small business trucker. Adjusted for inflation, my rates (driver wages) have remained about the same if not gone down a little, factoring in much higher expenses.
Contrary to what the American Trucking Association and its large member carriers would have you believe, the industry does not exist in a vacuum. It is subject to same economic laws of supply and demand as any other industry or commodity.
Why would a young person choose a career that requires the sacrifice of 14-hour days, tight living space, and frequent time away from home and family? Money. The sooner the large carriers offer wages and benefits commensurate to the skills required and sacrifices demanded to be a professional trucker, the sooner their self-imposed driver shortages will become less relevant.
Members of the ATA have been in a race to the bottom to see which carriers can haul it cheaper. This in turn causes a cannibalistic “churn” with drivers following promises of higher pay and gimmicky incentives only to be disappointed and quit. Unfortunately safety loses out.
These same ATA members then point to this churn as reasons they must be granted more and more H2B visa workers (foreigners) and why the minimum Interstate driving age of 21 should be lowered.
I applaud Kirkwood’s efforts to attract and train young people for the trucking business but retention will remain a problem unless and until carriers pay professionals like professionals.
Michael J. Nichols
Cross Plains, Wisc.