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Global Truck Driver Shortage Set to Worsen

The global shortage of truck drivers increased in 2023 and is likely to worsen in the coming years, according to Heavy Lift & Project Forwarding International.

What’s going on: “Surveying over 4,700 trucking companies in the Americas, Asia and Europe [the Swiss-based International Road Transport Union] has found that truck driver shortages increased globally in 2023, and over 3 million driver positions are currently unfilled in 36 countries studied.”

  • While there was some easing in the U.S. and Europe this year, “[w]ithout action to attract and retain drivers, more than 7 million truck driver positions could be unfilled by 2028 in the surveyed countries, including 4.9 million in China (20% of total positions), 745,000 in Europe (17% of total positions) and 200,000 in Turkey (28% of total positions).”
  • The U.S. has a truck driver shortage of about 80,000, a number that could double by the end of the decade if the current trajectory continues, according to the American Journal of Transportation.

Why it’s happening: The “profession has an ageing population: less than 12% of truck drivers are below 25 years old, falling to 5% in Europe. The share of female truck drivers also continues to remain low at only 6%, below the overall transport industry. … High training, license and insurance costs also make it expensive to become a truck driver.”

Why it’s important: Trucks are the most used mode of freight transport in the world and move the majority of U.S. freight by weight.

  • An ongoing driver shortage threatens the supply chain, increasing shipping delays and making goods less readily available.

What can be done: “[G]overnments and authorities need to increase efforts to improve working conditions and access to the profession,” IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto told the publication.

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