Trucking companies in Iowa and even the Executive VP of OOIDA agree that there is no driver shortage, despite statements from politicians and the ATA – the real issue is driver pay.
Fo years, the American Trucking Association, politicians, and other national groups have claimed a mass shortage of truck drivers, predicting a shortage of 160,000 truckers by 2030. However, trucking companies in Iowa and the Executive Vice President of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have recently stepped up to say that the issue isn’t a lack of drivers, it’s a lack of pay.
Executive VP of OOIDA Lewie Pugh says that the truck drivers are out there, but the issue is high turnover in trucking jobs due to low wages and long hours.
“They’re coming, they’re not staying. We’ve got this bucket that we’re filling with new drivers, but we got this hole at the bottom and they continue to fall out. Truck drivers don’t work 40 hours a week, they work 70 hours a week or more because that’s what they’re allowed to drive, and that’s become the standard or the norm in our industry. The 70-hour work week, not a 40. Truckers do not get paid overtime,” Pugh said.
In an effort to keep up, states like Iowa are moving towards lowering the CDL age to 18 in an attempt to keep up with the high turnover, but Pugh says this likely isn’t the safest or most effective strategy.
“Take some young person or whoever and put them behind the wheel, they’re not really comfortable or trained well in what they’re doing, they’re not getting paid well, they’re away from their family, all these things, so they leave,” said Pugh.
Not only is the industry difficult for truck drivers, but according to long-time small trucking company owners, it’s getting worse for smaller companies too.
“I have commercial insurance which is very expensive. It runs about $6,000. They run theirs under a farm LLC, most of them, they get by for probably $800 bucks. You know, it’s not a level playing field in this trucking industry,” said a local Iowa trucking company representative who preferred to remain anonymous, just in case.
CBS 2 Iowa reports that organizations are pushing for legislation that would grant truckers overtime past 40 hours in hopes that this would reduce driver turnover.
The American Trucking Association did not respond to requests for comment on the turnover and overtime issue.