While the trucking industry currently faces higher turnover and a growing number of job vacancies, analysts are looking at the bigger picture to find historical causes. Trucking regulations spanning back almost 20 years have contributed to the current issues found within the industry, though there are solutions on the table.
Hours of Service
Back in 2003, the industry was hit with one of the biggest trucking regulations. While this rule would certainly not be the last, it certainly did not help to improve the industry. The 2003 regulation reduced the driving window to 14 hours and increased the required off-duty period to ten hours. As far as trucking regulations go, the 2003 hours of service rule was the first step which threw a wrench into logistics schedules and decreased earnings for drivers. Any trucker who was caught in traffic had their earning lowered because the time spent stuck in traffic counted towards on-duty hours. The 2003 hours of service rule incentivized truckers to modify driving logs in order to make up lost miles and bring home livable earnings.
The ELD Mandate
The issues created by the 2003 hours of service rule gave birth to the mandate from the FMCSA requiring truckers to use electronic logging devices. Within months, drivers and fleet owners started to see reduced revenue. On the other side, businesses started to see hold-ups along the supply chain, with ELDs greatly reducing the efficiency with which products reached their destinations. A larger concern came from the agricultural community, because produce needed to be shipped in a timely manner before it started to rot, and livestock can’t be on the road for days without provisions.
Repercussions from Trucking Regulations
Trucking regulations have caused a drop-off in new career drivers. The incentives to make one’s own way and get the once big earnings are no longer there due to the decrease in hours of operation. To offset these frustrations, the trucking industry has offered large sign-on bonuses to new drivers. Despite all of the trucking regulations, the industry actually has the upper hand in most situations. Capacity drivers are in-demand, and customers are willing to pay more to have their shipments hauled. Some of the larger trucking companies are considering an increase in the per-mile pay rates, which have largely gone unchanged since the late 1980s. With more career drivers reaching retirement and a dearth of new blood, something needs to change to mitigate or roll back trucking regulations, because the strength of our economy is largely dependent on the trucking industry.