For some time, the transportation industry has been looking to carriers to solve the truck driver shortage problem, but it’s time for shippers to get involved. The latest data suggests a shortfall of 50,000 drivers this year and potentially more than 174,000 drivers by 2026. While carriers are hiring steadily, they can’t find enough qualified talent and turnover is high because the job comes with too many negatives. Among them, the approaching ELD mandate, inadequate pay, and too much time on the road make drivers unhappy, but poor treatment from shippers may be pushing them over the edge. If shippers don’t begin to address the issue, the situation will only get worse.

Drivers Don’t Get Paid for Waiting

Some carriers are adjusting their pay structures in ways that can help reduce turnover. Activity-based pay that compensates drivers for waiting, loading, paperwork, and other daily activities is becoming more popular, as is pay for multiple deliveries in a single load and holiday or evening driving. But pay restructuring only addresses part of the problem. It’s also critical for shippers to consider the consequences of their actions, particularly around detaining drivers and their shipments.

Why Shippers Must be Part of the Solution

In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of drivers said they typically waited more than three hours to have their trucks loaded or unloaded. While shippers may not see it, detaining drivers has long-term consequences:

  1. Wasted Resources. Loading delays waste time and resources. Idle drivers and trucks benefit no one.
  2. Dissatisfied Drivers. Truck drivers feel unfairly treated. They’re tired of dealing with scenarios beyond their control, and are looking for work in other industries. The national job market is good, offering plenty of well-paid driving positions in other industries—like ride sharing and construction.
  3. Increased Shortage. Ignoring the detention problem only contributes to the driver shortage, which costs shippers in the end. Detention fees, layover fees, and receiver late fees add up quickly.
  4. Compounded Effects. Late loading causes a driver to miss other appointments and creates a ripple effect. Even if a shipper pays detention fees, the amount doesn’t cover financial losses or damage done to a driver’s relationship with the other shipper or broker.

Retention and Detention Are Related

To combat the detention problem, truckers are starting to call out shippers who abuse the system. Some suggest starting a website to rate shippers. Carriers would use shipper scores when negotiating rates or before deciding to accept a load. The Department of Transportation is also reviewing the detention problem, which could lead to more regulation. Rather than heading down this path, shippers can pave the way to better cooperation by taking steps to avoid detaining drivers—and contribute to solving the driver shortage problem in the process.

At Capstone, we understand that combatting the driver shortage is a shared responsibility.  We work with shippers of choice and pass that value on to our carriers.  At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we’re all trying to get products to customers safely and efficiently.  By communicating clearly, providing real-time tracking updates, and scheduling loads as early as possible, we work diligently with both our carriers and customers to keep freight moving.