The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) states that the United States is headed for a truck driver shortage of 200,000 to 400,000 drivers within the next couple of years.Yet as of August 31, 2006, the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) had 12.9 million CDL driver records, growing at an average rate of nearly 40,000 new CDL licenses per month.Out of these, an estimated 50% are just CDL holders, not using their license within a truck driving employment position.
Although this is a fabricated “crisis”, the headline continues to gain attention by major news outlets. There has never been a truck driver shortage in the United States and to fully understand the reasons for this so-called crisis, one must look at several aspects relating to the truck transportation industry.
The fear mongering used by the trucking industry to induce news coverage of a truck driver shortage is a tactic that has been used for decades. The most recent term, “qualified driver shortage,” has come about due to the implementation of the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program (CSA). Because of this program, one could reason that there is a shortage of qualified truck drivers, but only because of further regulations being implemented upon the industry.
Motor carriers are now looking for the “perfect” CDL driver who has zero blemishes on their CSA/PSP scores since the CSA program now holds both driver and carrier responsible and liable for safety issues. In the past, only the driver was held responsible for safety violations, even if the violation was the direct fault of the carrier such as a problem with the truck or trailer where the carrier procrastinated in having the problem repaired.
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