The Biden administration announced its 90 day ‘Trucking Action Plan’ to attract new truck drivers and keep current drivers behind the wheel this week, but industry experts say the plan does little to address the actual issues pushing potential drivers out of the industry.
The plan proposes providing resources for expediting and expanding the process of acquiring a CDL, encouraging employers to implement apprenticeship programs to put more thoroughly trained drivers on the road, and even focuses on the recruitment of US military veterans, but none of that appears to address the issues Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association executives believe are at the root of the apparent ‘driver shortage’ – high turnover rates.
“We think the biggest problem, as far as driver workforce, is retention,” said Collin Long, Director of Government Affairs for OOIDA, reported Fox Business.
“They’re putting so much emphasis on bringing in more drivers and not enough on what you do once they’re in the field, how you get them to stay behind the wheel,” Long said. “How do you make the job prosperous for them and safe for them? And a lot of that is what’s missing from the proposal.”
However, there is one aspect to the plan that the OOIDA agrees with: a proposal to study the issues surrounding detention time.
“The amount of time that they waste waiting to be loaded has increased exponentially over time,” Long said. “It’s getting worse and worse and worse. If I’m a shipper or a receiver … and I’ve got this line of trucks, there’s no incentive for me to load or unload them efficiently because I’m not losing anything financially,” Long said. “The drivers aren’t being paid.”
Long believes that if drivers were to be paid for these wait times, shippers, receivers, and the entire industry would be incentivised to operate more efficiently because wasting drivers’ time would mean money out of their own pockets.
The ‘Trucking Action Plan’ was put forth as part of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force created earlier this year to tackle supply chain problems spurred by COVID-19.
“Trucking plays a critical role in the U.S. supply chain and economy. America’s truck drivers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, delivering goods to every corner of this country,” the White House said in a statement. “A strong, stable, and safe trucking workforce that offers good-paying jobs to millions of truck drivers is a critical lifeblood of our economy.”