The impact of pending new hours of service regulations set to take effect this summer will aggravate the shortage of professional truck drivers in the industry, according to a trio of large carrier executives in the U.S.
A looming driver shortage, is already manifesting in a significant drop of applicants for driving jobs and enrolments for driving schools, according to a recent panel discussion with Derek Leathers, president and CEO, Werner Enterprises, Dan England, chairman of C.R. England and Max Fuller, chairman and CEO of U.S. Express.
“We think a lot of drivers have left the industry to go into construction and other sectors and that is going to intensify,” Fuller said, adding he has seen a 25-percent drop in job applications over the past month.
As reported by Truck News, the executives partly blamed the double digit decrease in applications since last year on the new HOS rules slated to take effect on July 1. Fuller said drivers may decide to retire earlier because the new rules require more rest and allow less driving time. He believes it could lead to a 8-10-percent loss in productivity.
Regardless, he said carriers have no choice at this point but to prepare for the new rules and its effect.
“We have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. You don’t know which contingency it’s going to be but you have to be ready for it.”
Leathers said it’s critical for carriers to keep raising the issue with shippers and stress that higher wages are necessary to attract newcomers to the industry and for carriers to guarantee capacity.
Even the option of “hours of service surcharge” was discussed to cover potential losses was discussed.
“Clearly the cost has to be passed along,” England said. “I don’t think it will be as an hours of service surcharge though. It will be another one of those things we will have to be constantly fighting about.”