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November 14, 2016 4:00 AM, EST

Letters: More Views on the Driver Shortage

These Letters appear in the Nov. 14 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Make Truck Driving More Appealing

Your Oct. 31 issue of Transport Topics included a letter about changing the rules and getting more drivers. In essence, have two drivers in each truck.

After reading it, my thoughts were: Where have you been over the past two decades? You cannot fill trucks with one driver, let alone two!

In today’s trucking industry, it’s a real challenge to remain status quo, but to expand with adding new drivers requires extraordinary efforts and resources that most companies do not bother with. Most companies expand through acquisitions.

Once December 2017 arrives, electronic logs will be mandatory, and the trucking industry will be in a real bind at this point to ensure all drivers comply with hours-of-service rules. One solution would be to allow the driver a reprieve if he is within one or two hours of reaching where they are domiciled. The 10-hour rule should be suspended to allow the driver to proceed without penalty.

This privilege is given to people working in several other industries. For example: surgeons and warehouse or manufacturing jobs may work double shifts from time to time and still be able to go home after their shift is over. Truck drivers are told they must stop and take a break.

We must work to make truck driving a more appealing career choice to ensure the longevity of our industry.

Allan Parnell

Chairman of the Board

Mister “P” Express Inc.

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Always a Problem

The driver shortage problem is harmful even when capacity fades. Just think what would happen if the industry was booming at this point. We would negatively impact our country’s GNP by not having the capable means to transport the goods.

We have carriers raising drivers’ wages when that is not the problem. You hear on national radio ads where a first-year driver makes $84,000 for one retailer. Wage isn’t the issue; it’s insurance companies and federal involvement. Our companies using transportation management systems are trying to assist with reduction of drivers by smart transportation moves. Third-party logistics providers help because they have dynamic pricing and use carriers where they are. Our Optimizer is a key because it combines shipments to avoid the extra miles. But no matter what, we need to solve this problem.

Surely the insurance companies must know that it’s time to rethink their ideas of age and experience. How do you get experience if you can’t drive? Do you see at night as well as you did?

Answer the simple questions, insurance companies. Do you have the same ability to climb into a truck, role tarps, stay up for hours behind a wheel and drive 500 miles a day as when you were in your early 20s? It’s time for insurance companies to work with transportation and the federal government to get out of the way?

Our best system is developed by the transportation world, and actually we all do a pretty good job at managing it. Driverless trucks may be a part of the future, but our problems are now, and we need to address them now — and then plan for those future events. Transportation management systems, brokers, 3PLs, technology and educated transportation people can and will make the right decisions as long as insurance and the feds don’t get in the way.

Reo B. Hatfield

President of Corporate Services

BestTransport

Columbus Ohio