The impending driver shortage, which stems from a combination of the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Hours of Service regulations and a general lack of new driver applications mixed with a high driver turnover rate, will start to impact the industry by the end of the year.
Hibbett Sports’ Scott Austin said the driver shortage issue hasn’t yet affected the shipper, but he expects to see issues in certain areas of the industry in the next two to four months. Soon, he predicts, drivers will also be benefitting from higher wages in order to keep the shortage from becoming an epidemic and to possibly attract new recruits, but that will also drive up costs for shippers.
“Driver pay will have to go up, which will mean that the rates will need to change, and this will lead to higher prices,” he told American Shipper
In addition to seeing his costs increase, Austin expects more shipments to be late for delivery as the industry tries to grapple with a dwindling pool of drivers.
The affects of the driver shortage, such as reduced capacity, haven’t yet been seen. FTR’s June Shippers Conditions Index showed a poor freight environment, which negated any capacity constraints that occurred in advance of July’s Hours of Service rule change.
Speaking about the new rules, FTR’s Lawrence Gross said the rule change might reduce truck capacity by 3 percent.
“Offsetting this removal of capacity is the currently weak freight environment due to an economy which is growing slower than we had expected (or hoped),” he said in a statement. “The net effect is to postpone significant tightening of capacity into later this year or even next year, depending on what happens with the economy.”
FTR analysts have previously said there will be a need for 60,000 additional drivers to negate any impacts caused by the hours of service change. - Jon Ross