U.S. truck drivers are frustrated with more than the Covid-19
U.S. truck drivers are frustrated with more than the Covid-19

U.S. truck drivers are frustrated with more than the Covid-19

These problems were put in the spotlight as the pandemic disrupted supply chains across the globe, leaving many U.S. store shelves empty.

The harsh working conditions, especially for long-distance truck drivers, make it incredibly difficult to retain drivers, who often go to other companies or stop in the industry altogether. The average annually turnover rate of long-distance drivers at larger companies was 96% in the third quarter last year, according to American Trucking Associations, an industry group. In smaller companies, the turnover rate was 73%.

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.

The median salary is $ 47,130 per yearwhich is higher than the median for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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.

In addition, it is a dangerous job. Compared to the average worker, motor vehicle operators are 10 times more likely to be killed on the job and almost nine times more likely to be injured on the job, according to a report from the Ministry of Trade with reference to 2015 data.

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”.

These barriers to entry have been recognized by the Biden administration, as announced an action plan to strengthen the country’s trucking workforce at the end of last year.

“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 Biden administration’s action plan instructs the Department of Transportation and Labor to engage with private partners to expand access to quality trucking jobs now and in the years to come. Administration launched -one 90 days challengewhich aims to encourage private companies and organizations to offer registered apprenticeships that provide workers with a debt-free path to becoming certified drivers.

The administration is also sending $ 30 million to states to help them speed up the process of issuing commercial driver’s licenses.

That Act on Infrastructure Investments and Jobswhich was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in November, contained several provisions to address some of the problems with the long-distance truck driver labor market.

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.

In addition, a new federal pilot program created by infrastructure law lowers the minimum age for truck drivers allowed to cross state borders. The program will provide people as young as 18 with a commercial driver’s license and a clean record the opportunity to take the wheel of intergovernmental trucks under the direct supervision of an experienced driver. The program has not yet started receiving applications. Currently, those under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive semi across state borders.

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.

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