Continuing the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing supply chain disruptions, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi met with multiple transportation organizations in the Midwest this week. The meetings focused on strengthening commercial vehicle safety, bolstering truck driver availability, and improving rail-to-truck supply chain efficiencies.
Truck driver retention and recruitment has been a focus of the White House Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions. The core reason for America’s truck driver capacity issue is the startlingly low retention of current drivers. Among large truck companies, driver turnover rates between companies and out of the industry for long haul drivers are over 90% annually.
In July, Secretary Buttigieg hosted a roundtable on truck driver recruitment and retention to bring together industry, labor, and stakeholders to surface solutions. As a direct result of the roundtable, DOT and DOL are working with the truck driving industry to bolster paid apprenticeship programs as an added tool to address the ongoing driver shortage crisis in the tank truck industry. Additionally, DOT is supporting state DMVs which is helping address the truck driver shortage. In 2021, an average of 50,000 Commercial Drivers Licenses and Learners Permits have been issued each month, which is 14% higher than the 2019 monthly average and 60% higher than the 2020 monthly average.
“Truck drivers are essential professionals who have been working on the front lines of this pandemic. It’s hard to overstate the critical nature of trucking to the wellbeing of our Nation,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Joshi. “Truck driving is a vital segment of the supply chain, and our focus is on continually enhancing workplace practices while improving efficiencies including decreasing driver detention time while ensuring the highest level of safety possible for every roadway traveler.”
During her Midwest trip, Joshi held meetings with representatives of the Illinois Farm Bureau Association, the Illinois Trucking Association, Union Pacific Railroad’s Global IV Intermodal Terminal, and a United Parcel Service’s driver training facility.
“The Illinois Trucking Association sincerely appreciated the opportunity to meet with Deputy Administrator Joshi to discuss the issues that are most important to the trucking industry,” said ITA Executive Director, Matt Hart. “Seventy percent of Illinois communities depend entirely on the trucking industry to deliver their goods, and our industry accounts for 1 in 16 jobs in the state. Because our industry is facing unprecedented challenges with our supply chain and with our workforce, we welcome the opportunity to discuss these problems and possible solutions to ensure we safely deliver the essential goods that Americans need each day. We look forward to continuing to work with FMCSA to ensure our nation’s freight is delivered safely.” Discussions covered a broad range of strategies to improve supply chain movement and roadway safety including: streamlining the transport of fuel to farm equipment; beneficial updates to electronic logging devices (ELDs); replicating proven driver training and retention models; and ways to improve rail-to-truck intermodal chassis maintenance and chassis availability.