These problems were put in the spotlight as the pandemic disrupted supply chains across the globe, leaving many U.S. store shelves empty.
The Biden administration has taken several steps to help recruit new drivers and keep experienced on the job. The massive infrastructure legislation passed last year is also beginning to address some of these workforce challenges, but experts say it will take time to rebuild the pipeline of truck drivers.
For long-distance hauliers, the job typically consists of several days of trips, where the driver spends nights away from home and sleeps in the truck cab.
However, long-distance truck drivers are typically paid on a per-mile basis instead of per hour, and are also exempt from receiving overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means that drivers only make money when they are actively driving and not when they are waiting for the load to be ready for collection, or when the truck is loaded or unloaded, for example.
Goes into debt for training costs
Some long-distance truck drivers fall into debt to try to get the many months of training they need for the job, according to Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies freight transportation and is the author of the book, “The Big.” Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. ”
Some drivers are being trained by a haulage company but are signing a contract that promises to pay thousands of dollars back in training costs if they leave the job, Viscelli said, calling the situation a “debt phenomenon”.
“Too many American hauliers are set up to fail with funding schemes or forced to pay junk fees. To keep our economy going, we must ensure that hard-working hauliers do not face economic ruin,” Rohit Chopra said. , director of the consumer. Financial Protection Bureau, in a recent press release from the administration.
How Biden is trying to improve conditions
The administration is also sending $ 30 million to states to help them speed up the process of issuing commercial driver’s licenses.
It created a new federal Truck Leasing Task Force that will focus on predatory car leasing schemes as well as loans and other schemes between incoming driver students and their training schools or trucking companies. It also calls on a Women of Trucking Advisory Board to help inform efforts to increase the number of women in truck driving.
The change is intended to help address the shortage of workers, but safety advocates have raised concerns about allowing younger drivers to take longer trips.