Truck industry leader blames ‘economic dysfunction’ for shortage

A truck industry leader blamed a shortage of available drivers plaguing some companies on “economic dysfunction”, like long hours, bad pay and a lack of advancement opportunities.

“It’s nutty,” Todd Spencer, the owner-operator of Independent Drivers Association, told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney during an interview on Wednesday. “The most important person in trucking is the person behind the wheel, and that’s the person who virtually always gets short-changed throughout the supply chain.”

According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry was short more than 36,000 drivers in 2016. It estimated the number could surpass 63,000 in 2018, and 174,000 in 2026. The trade group attributes the driver shortage, in part, to a lack of qualified applicants that lack the desired experience or qualifications.

Spencer, however, said that’s an issue largely unique to large, public companies look to cut costs. Private companies and less-than-truckload shipping -- the transportation of relatively small freight -- are mostly unaffected by the shortage, he said.

“And the characteristics of those companies is that they pay their drivers well and they have good working conditions,” he said. “Drivers come and stay.”

The typical workweek for a truck driver who isn’t working for a private company is between 70 to 80 hours, and drivers are largely at the mercy of other people’s schedules, Spencer said. A driver could also spend an additional 20 or 30 hours waiting to load or unload their freight.

“That’s part of the economic dysfunction that makes this an occupation that people don’t want to pursue as a career,” he said.