TODAY’S MODERATOR: Is there a driver shortage?

More mail on the recent news that the state is considering legislation to boost the number of commercial truckers. This came in from reader Michael Huff, who says, in part:

"With regard to the so-called trucker shortage, a lot of owner/operators and small carriers would disagree. I own a small (less than 10 trucks) carrier and our thought is that there is a driver retention problem, not a shortage. If there was a shortage, there would be freight sitting on docks not getting moved, that is not the case. Rates — based on supply and demand — have been down for the past 2-plus years. Mega-carriers and organizations that represent them cry about a driver shortage, but they, as your previous responder mentioned, don't pay well enough to keep anyone interested. And they also are the ones that want younger drivers permitted to drive, with as little training as they can give them.

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"The job is not for everyone, that is for sure. To make money you need to be gone for fairly long periods of time and it's not an easy life, though there are thousands that love it. The industry is way over-regulated, supposedly for safety sake, but many of the regulations make the job and roads less safe than more. … Hours of service is a big issue….a driver knows when he's tired and needs a nap, but because of something called the 14 hour day, often times he's forced to drive when tired to get the product through.

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"Hours and hours can be spent at shippers and receivers that cut into that 14 hour day as well, often times without pay. There are many problems within the trucking industry that likely could be much better addressed by people who know and have experienced the business instead of those who sit in a nice office 8 hours a day. Until we see freight not being moved and rates come up because of it, a driver shortage is not near the top of the list of problems in the industry."

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