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5 Things You Didn't Know about the CDL Driver Shortage

By now, anyone working even remotely close to the trucking or commercial logistics industry is aware of the ongoing driver shortage. According to recent reports, there are around 60,000 industry openings for CDL drivers. That being said, there are reports and articles being published every day with new numbers, statistics, and findings on the driver shortage – so many, in fact, that it can be hard to know what is right and what is simply conjecture. Here are a few things you might not know about the CDL driver shortage:

1. Without trucks, the American economy would grind to a standstill. Even in today’s digital age, an overwhelming majority of freight is moved by trucks. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), 71% of all U.S. freight is moved on trucks. This means 10.5 billion tons of goods every single year are loaded and unloaded from trucks. In order to continue to run smoothly and keep up with this demand, the industry requires more than 3.6 million trucks and 3.5 drivers – numbers which the CDL industry is struggling to hit. Without enough trucks on the road, the very backbone of the American economy is at risk.

2. Pay and perks for CDL drivers are on the rise. In order to offset the driver shortage and get more trucks on the roads, carriers are starting to offer higher wages and more perks to drivers. According to NPR, the average truck driver salary is around $60,000, and the perks are nothing to shy away from. From 401(k) plans to generous PTO and sign-on bonuses, carriers are starting to understand that one of the easiest ways to get new drivers on the road is to make it worth their while. Only time will tell if this tactic will actually make a big enough dent in the driver shortage. 

3. Technology is taking the trucking industry into the 21st century. While the driver shortage has put many in the industry on high alert, it has also been the catalyst for new innovations and ideas in the space. Carriers, recruiters, and drivers themselves have had to become more creative and innovative in order to compete and remain successful. Many recruiters have started implementing digital solutions like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to digitally manage the driver recruiting lifecycle for a much more streamlined and efficient process.

4. The trucking industry is becoming more diverse and inclusive. For a long time, the trucking industry and CDL drivers in general operated as a kind of ‘good ole boys club’. Predominantly male and white for decades, the driver shortage has opened up opportunities to a more diverse group of drivers. Groups like Women in Trucking are advocating for the increased hire and retention of female drivers, while there are more minorities and drivers of color entering the CDL workforce than ever before. In some ways, the driver shortage was the push the trucking industry really needed to open its doors and become more inclusive.

5. There is hope on the horizon. Unfortunately, in times of uncertainty like the driver shortage it’s easy for people to get nervous and lose hope in an industry they’ve been in for so long. While the CDL driver shortage is still here – and while it is still a major challenge facing the industry – there are plenty of opportunities on the horizon. New pilot programs lowering the minimum driving age and studies on the safety impact of younger drivers are making the case for a different CDL trucking landscape. As long as proactive attempts to ease this shortage are out there, the industry will keep moving forward.


Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog or follow us on LinkedIn for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.

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