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Is There Another Driver Shortage Coming?
3 mins read

In April 2020, 88,000 jobs in the trucking industry were lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic – accounting for six percent of the entire workforce.

But even as the number of unemployed drivers continues to  increase, there are some who believe that the industry could be facing a driver shortage once the economy starts to recover.

The reason, is because closures among CDL training schools and state driver licensing agencies are making it challenging for anyone pursuing a career in trucking to get behind the wheel – either they can’t get the training they need, or they can’t get licensed. This has created a virtual halt on newly licensed commercial vehicle drivers.

Related: Get COVID Updates in Our Resources Center 

Industry experts believe this could lead to 40 percent fewer new CDL drivers in 2020 compared to normal years.

The Government’s Response

To ensure there isn’t an immediate driver shortage, the FMCSA did issue a waiver through June 30, 2020 that allows CLP holders to operate a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL holder in the front passenger seat provided that a licensed commercial vehicle driver is elsewhere in the cab.

In order to take advantage of this exemption, the CLP driver must have evidence that they passed the CDL driving skills test.

In addition, CLPs that expired after March 1 will be considered valid until that June 30, 2020 waiver deadline.

Related: How to Rehire Drivers Quickly After the COVID Crisis

The Impact

With so many drivers out of work, the issue of a driver shortage isn’t one that the the industry will likely see for some time.

Get Drivers Back Behind the Wheel Quickly & Safely 

With signs of hope that demand is starting to trend upwards, many fleets may be in a position to start rehiring furloughed drivers or put an end to their hiring freeze over the next few months. But a need for additional drivers won’t likely occur until the economy rebounds – and there’s still too many unknowns about the virus, as well as how successful the reopening process will be, to project when that will  happen.

In addition to too few drivers – another area where this may have an impact, is in the preference of some fleets to hire experienced drivers. With a large gap in new CDL drivers starting their careers, and the older generations continuing to retire, the industry will reach a point where there are fewer experienced drivers on the road than the industry demands. This effect will likely be felt in a few years – around the time that all drivers who would be starting their commercial driving careers now would have the experience carriers are looking for.



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