If you’ve been watching the news, you have seen headlines surrounding the gas shortage as a result of the Colonial Pipeline hack. While at first this seemed as if it was a minor hack, the implications have been widespread and heavily publicized.

Odds are you’ve been looking at images centered around the panic-buying and stockpiling of gas that’s occurring. While at first glance you can scoff at the images of those filling up 15 gas cans, it’s understandable given the fact that there has been an increasing number of once commonplace items that have turned into impossible-to-find rarities.

The current state

Whether you’re looking for chicken, lumber, microchips, steel, metals, chlorine, ketchup packets or now gas, the odds you come up empty-handed are high. Every supply chain touchpoint, from shipping, demand, supply and all other variables of the global economy, remain at the mercy of the pandemic and subsequently create shortages.

One of the essential forces in keeping the U.S. supply chain moving is commercial vehicles and the commercially licensed drivers that occupy the cab. Despite being such an integral industry needed to keep commonplace goods moving throughout the United States, the commercial trucking realm has struggled over the past 15 years to retain and hire as many drivers as are needed to match demand. As a result, a hefty CDL driver shortage has emerged.

In an attempt to combat supply chain disruptions like the one we’re seeing now with gas while making the most of the ability of the commercially licensed drivers on the road now, federal regulators like the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) have taken many steps, including:

  • USDOT: Allowing states covered by “major disaster” declarations to use Interstate highways to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other varied fuels.
  • FMCSA: Temporary hours of service exemptions applied to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to numerous states.

Tanker truck driver shortages

These temporary solutions have come at a time when the increased demand for trucking capacity to move fuel was at its highest point in years, partially due in part to pandemic disruptions as well as a continued CDL driver shortage. In the case of the “gas shortage,” it has proven to be just the opposite.

There’s not a shortage of crude oil or gasoline, but rather we’re feeling the impact of the short supply of tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations that are in short supply. According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, between 20-25 percent of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to scarcity of qualified drivers.

These truck driver shortages aren’t new, either. According to the American Trucking Associations, by the end of 2018, there were over 60,000 drivers needed – and the problem has only continued to get worse. One of the main factors is the high average age of the existing workforce; another is the lack of appeal to all segments of the population.

Not only is recruiting new truck drivers more difficult but keeping the ones you have has been proven to be extremely tough. Paired together, these factors underline the importance of strong truck driver retention efforts in an increasingly competitive market vital to everyday life.

Knowing that the CDL driver shortage isn’t letting up anytime soon, what steps are you taking to close the driver shortage gap and retain your best drivers?

Top 3 truck driver retention tips

The American Trucking Associations also noted the turnover rate at truckload fleets with more than $30 million in revenue was at 83 percent. Imagine if your company had 1000 employees – could you afford to lose 830 of them in one year?

That’s why retention efforts are so important. Three ways companies can better retain their drivers include:

Increased training

Enroll drivers in training courses addressing high-risk behavior before a crash or disqualifying incident occurs. Intervention is key in retaining drivers in a competitive landscape. High costs are associated with recruiting and onboarding new drivers, making it critical to proactively intervene with high-risk drivers before they’re disqualified.

Focus on health and wellness

Burnout is a real issue at any job, no matter what industry you’re in. Pair that with a physically demanding job such as trucking, and your drivers are more likely to experience it. Focus on the health and wellness of your drivers. In time, you may see rates of job-specific health challenges like obesity rates, sleep deprivation, social isolation and more decrease.

Enhance the post-hire experience

Think about life past onboarding. Whether that be new trucks equipped with smarter features, ergonomically designed cabs or automatic transmissions, life inside the cab and on the road matters. Offer personal development initiatives including mentorship and increase touchpoints with new drivers to gauge satisfaction and ways to improve.

What we’ve learned

If the number at the pump continues rising these next few months or your DIY coffee table has to be put on hold due to lumber scarcity, it is partially a result of the lack of truck drivers needed to fully move America’s freight.

While the increased pressure for in-demand goods continues onward in lockstep with the truck driver shortage, retention remains integral in ensuring your business continues playing an important part in the United States supply chain.

Interested in learning tips to properly vet drivers, ensuring your company can hire and retain the drivers you’ll want to keep long-term? Download our white paper, Why Driver Monitoring Matters.