Earlier this month, I wrote about the driver shortage problem in trucking, arguing that the only way to solve it is through innovation. The post received numerous comments, especially on LinkedIn, with some people agreeing with me, while others advocated for higher pay as the simple solution, and others questioned whether a driver shortage truly existed.
This week I received an email from William Dush, who worked as an over-the-road truck driver for 28 years. With his permission, I share his comments below.
You’ll notice that William doesn’t directly mention driver pay as a grievance (although he suggests it at the end when he mentions slave labor). For William, the main reason trucking companies can’t keep “the seats in their trucks filled,” is that drivers are treated poorly (“like trash with no rights”) by their employers, the Department of Transportation (DOT), shippers and receivers, and the general public.
Paying drivers more is a step in the right direction, but as I argued in my post, it’s not enough to solve the driver shortage problem. As William makes clear in his comments, which was echoed in other comments posted, the solution begins with the industry and the public showing drivers a whole lot more respect.
Email from William Dush:
I was a OTR driver for 28 years with no accidents. The shortage of drivers is due to the treatment of drivers. They are treated like trash with no rights.
[Trucking companies] look at drivers as equipment.
The DOT treats them as outlaw trash with no rights; they tell them when to drive, stop, sleep, and eat. They invade their home on wheels at will without warrant or cause. They use drivers as revenue for their state or county with bogus tickets.
There is no place to park. You cannot idle so you can use your a/c or heat, so you’re hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
The truck’s speed and power are cut back so far you cannot pull the hills and keep up with the flow of traffic. That keeps the public pissed because you’re blocking traffic, which causes unnecessary risk of passing on [two-lane roads] and keeps all the trucks restricted to the right lane where you’re blocking all the traffic that’s getting on and off the highway.
You sit [for] hours at the shippers, and hours at the receivers, and very seldom get paid for those hours.
So you can’t really think, under the conditions of being treated as 3rd class citizens and outlaws with no rights, [that] you will keep [the] seats in your trucks filled. Go ahead and open the borders — that’s what it’s all about anyway, wanting slave labor.
Trucking is not a job; it is a way of life.
What do you think of William’s comments? Are you concerned about the driver shortage problem? Do you believe it’s a problem? Post a comment and share your perspective!
For related commentary, watch the recent Talking Logistics episode, Becoming a Shipper of Choice for Carriers.