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The National Driver Shortage: Finding the Fix

According to industry experts, the United States trucking industry has been experiencing a massive driver shortage. The shortage is causing ripple effects and creating consequences for suppliers, carriers, and drivers alike. While the situation has worsened in recent years, it’s only expected to decline in the near future with the lack of incentives for drivers. Additionally, the demand for services is growing quickly with the increasing population and product demand. While the industry is growing, driver employment just can’t keep up. While this is good for trucking job prospects, the demand has created a busier schedule for individual drivers who are picking up the current slack. The American Trucking Association has said, “if conditions don’t change substantively, our industry could be short just over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 drivers by 2028.”

Replacing retiring drivers and keeping up with economic growth requires the industry to hire about 110,000 workers per year, but many companies are struggling to do so. So what’s the fix? Here’s what you need to about the current national driver shortage.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

More freight services are needed to account for product demand in the ever-growing U.S. economy. A substantial portion of this demand comes from the sharp increase in delivered products from online commerce, which has absolutely skyrocketed in the past decade. Additionally, the complex political situation concerning trade between the United States and China has increased the demand for American freight.

One of the biggest threats to the current driver workforce is simply age. Drivers are retiring at rates that are not balanced out by the rates of new recruits, shrinking the pool of candidates. Also, there is heavy competition from other blue-collar fields such as construction and plumbing that have similar pay ceilings and benefits without excessive traveling and time away from home. Many eligible candidates for trucking positions gravitate towards these other options, especially if they have families that they don’t want to be away from for long periods of time.

How Companies Can Help Fix it

There are many things that companies can do to get more drivers on their team. Some have tried to sweeten the pot by offering incentives and focusing on recruiting a lasting workforce. Here are some of the ways that companies can ease the burden of the driver shortages.

Improving Work-Life Balance

Companies should offer a better work-life balance for their employees. Truckers often work long and tiring hours, all while spending time away from home, and this can be unappealing to people outside of the industry thinking about jumping in. If companies encouraged more manageable hours, people might be less hesitant to accept the job. Additionally, providing extra days off between trips would allow drivers to achieve a more well-rounded routine. If companies could guarantee that there would be a good work-life balance, new drivers would be more likely to get involved, and this could help establish a lasting pool of drivers.

Encouraging More Women

The industry is missing out on a large potential workforce by not trying harder to appeal to female drivers. Less than 7% of semi-truck drivers are female, a staggeringly small percentage. Making more of an effort to get women into the industry could potentially double the workforce.

Additionally, while the trucking industry has drastically raised its percentages of minority drivers in the past decade, continuing this process will aid the crisis even more. Reaching out to all demographics will lead to a larger supply of qualified workers.

Recruiting Veterans

Recruiting more veterans can revolutionize the trucking industry. It eases their transition into civilian life and they likely already have experience with similar machinery from their served time. Many companies are formulating plans for programs that provide Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) for veterans with similar military-based licenses.

Persuading Younger Drivers

Another basis for training programs is getting younger recruits to serve in the workforce for decades to come. The average age for a commercial truck driver is 46, whereas the average age for other blue-collar professions is 37. Attracting more young drivers into the industry can help offset the progressing retirement rate, as long as these drivers can be convinced to stay in their careers. Fortunately, there are many incentives for entry-level employees to join the workforce, such as competitive salaries, job security, minimal accreditation, and all of the advancements in autonomous technology.

Get into the Industry Today

Now is a good time to enter the transportation and trucking industry considering the high demand and low supply. Getting into the industry young and qualified can set you up for a lifetime of stability, as the industry is only expected to grow in the coming years. If you’re interested in getting started and need help with financing, check out Mission Financial to jumpstart your future career as a semi-truck driver!

Everything You Need to Know about Annual Semi-Truck Maintenance

Semi-truck maintenance can be expensive and unpredictable, but it’s a necessary evil that comes along with ownership. It’s tempting to put off repairs until damage occurs, but regular maintenance is crucial to preventing more serious problems down the road. Preventative maintenance can save costs and eliminate downtime for your truck. Annual repairs and tune-ups are recommended by industry professionals, but how often are they really necessary, and how much should you be saving for them? Here are our recommendations for how to keep up with your annual semi-truck maintenance.

What Yearly Maintenance is Necessary?

Major engine repair can cost up to $22k, so preventative measures are cheaper in the long run. While the intricacies of your truck are unique, there are a few measures that are standard for all trucks. While many are relatively cheap and mundane, they can prevent engine and body damage that could potentially cost you a small fortune in repairs. Here are the most important methods of regular truck maintenance to keep in mind:

  • Checking tires for wear
  • Regular oil changes
  • Fuel Vent Cleaning
  • Brake checks
  • Add Grease to Moving Parts
  • Check Radiator for Leaks and Fluid Loss

Some Repairs Are More Important Than Others… 

While all regular maintenance is important, there are three things that are especially crucial: tires, radiators, and oil changes. These are particularly important because they can cause the most expensive damage if left unattended.

Tires

 Replacing your worn tires is essential for responsible truck ownership due to the dangerous alternative. Popping a tire on your route becomes a massive collision risk once you lose control of the vehicle. When you drive with worn tires, you risk damaging your own truck, public property, as well as posing a massive public safety risk. It’s important to be able to recognize when your tires have worn down too thin. Most semi-truck tires have clear indicators of this, known as “tread wear indicators,” and if they’re visible, it’s time to replace. They usually just look like flat bars running the width of the tire. A good standard to follow is to reassess every 100,000-150,000 miles or if you notice a cracking or bulging along the sidewalls of the tires.

Oil Changes

Oil changes are vastly important, and if you don’t keep up with it, you’ll start to see a plethora of problems with your engine. Oil changes clean out sludge and grime, and without them, your engine could overheat and cease its normal functions, leading to a much bigger bill. While your truck might have a light that comes on on your dash when it’s time, the best way to be sure of your oil situation is to regularly check your oil stick.

Radiator Maintenance

It’s important to check for leaks in your radiator and replace any fluids that appear to be running low. These efforts also aid in the prevention of an engine overheat. Engine care is especially important considering that it can be one of the most expensive repairs you’ll ever have as an owner-operator.

How Much Should You Save?

It can be difficult to judge how much money to put away from each paycheck towards a maintenance fund. These costs will differ dramatically depending on various factors. One of the most important factors is your own skillset. Doing the maintenance yourself will be a fraction of what it would cost you to go and have it done by a professional. If you’re not well versed in semi-truck maintenance, you’ll have to fork over significantly more dough, but the quality is the most important priority when it comes to taking care of you and your livelihood. Additionally, the type of truck that you have matters. Older trucks tend to have more expensive maintenance proceedings due to the rarity of their parts and the added wear and tear.

While there is no exact formula, there is a usual estimate based on miles driven that industry professionals recommend using. Usually saving between 5-10 cents per mile driven is a good idea, but if you’re finding that you have to save more than 15 cents per mile, it might be time to consider replacing your truck in favor of a more dependable option.

Staying Safe and Financially Secure

Breaking down due to poor maintenance can not only cause expensive repairs, it can majorly cut into productivity, as you have to stop your route and seek help. Sometimes you even have to forfeit your haul and therefore lose out on the pay from the entire trip, putting you behind on paychecks with the added stress of repair bills.

It can additionally be dangerous to not have a properly functioning semi, as many of these repairs are essential to having total control of the truck. It can be especially unsafe if you break down on a route and you’re in an unfamiliar place without immediate assistance. All of these factors are important to consider before getting a semi-truck, as these procedures are part of operating costs that will determine your overall profit and lifestyle. If you think you’re ready to take it all on, contact Mission Financial to get started with your semi-truck financing!

How Much Should Semi-Truck Insurance Actually Cost?

Finding the right insurance can be difficult, as the process can be excessively complex and sometimes confusing. There are many factors to take into consideration when insurance agencies give you a quote; some of them in your control and some of them not. Knowing how your status can affect your rate is key to getting a fair price. Being uninformed can cause you to overpay, so it’s important to research carefully. Here’s what you need to know about semi-truck insurance costs and how to avoid being duped.

Why Do You Need Semi-Truck Insurance?

Commercial trucking insurance is different from ordinary car insurance, as there is a wide range of additional liabilities. In the event of an accident, federal law requires certain insurance policies to ensure the compensation of anyone injured or any property damaged. Failure to fulfill these insurance requirements can result in an assortment of consequences. These can include a variety of expensive fines, extensive and often invasive government inspections, and total financial liability in the event of a collision, fire, or vandalism.

Different Types of Insurance

There is a wide variety of coverage that you will need before getting out on the road. Some protect the public in the event that a driver causes damage or a collision, these policies include:

  • Public Liability Insurance (usually between $5000 and $12,000) protects both the truck driver and the public if a truck driver causes an accident.
  • Bodily Injury Insurance (cost depends entirely on driving record and company policy, but usually combined with public liability for a few thousand more per year) covers the cost of medical bills if anyone is injured in an accident by fault of the truck driver.
  • Property Damage Coverage (requirements vary by state, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000) covers repairs to any property that is damaged as a result of an accident.

Additionally, there is insurance to protect the truck drivers and their cargo:

  • Cargo Legal Liability Insurance (usually around $1,000 per year) covers damage or loss of cargo should it occur on your route due to an accident, fire, or vandalism. It’s important for both the carriers and the providers as it protects the driver from legal liability, and it protects the cargo owners from significant profit loss.
  • Physical Damage Insurance (usually between $1,000 and $3,000 per year) is for semi-trucks, and it covers the trailer in the event of any body damage.

Average Costs

While it’s difficult to give approximations due to the large range of cost per policy, all of these different types of insurance added together usually range in cost from $12,000 to $18,000, sometimes even going above $30,000 for drivers considered to be higher risk. However, these are merely national averages and may not speak to your unique situation. The prices for each type of insurance drastically vary in different ways, depending on which factors are the most relevant to what the policy is protecting. So for example, Cargo Legal Liability Insurance will vary in cost depending on the value of your cargo. Additionally, if you’ve signed on with a motor carrier, this lowers your personal costs, often all the way down to $2,000 $4,000.

Factors that Affect Your Costs

There are a wide variety of factors that can affect the cost of your quote. Insurance companies evaluate certain aspects of your past and present before determining the price, so make sure you are familiar with each of the following. These factors can include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • The number of years that you’ve been driving a semi; more experience resulting in lower rates
  • What type of cargo you haul; the more expensive the cargo, the more expensive the insurance
  • How long your routes usually are; the shorter the route, the less risks associated
  • Your age, as younger drivers are considered less of a liability than seniors
  • Your credit history; as this helps determines how dependable you are at making payments
  • What type of payment plan you establish with the provider; the more payments per year, the better
  • Driving record/ number of accidents; a poor driving record will cause your rates to skyrocket

How to Lower your Insurance Costs

While many of these factors described above are out of your control, there are many things that you can do to lower your costs, the most being to stay accident-free. A clean driving record is essential to keeping insurance costs down, as pricing for coverage is largely influenced by your probability to cause a collision. Additionally, the more frequent your payments, the better, as it establishes trust between you and your provider. It’s recommended that you pay the whole premium in one lump sum every year, as it is a great way to keep your rates reasonable. This payment is easier said than done, but it’s a great goal to strive towards in your hauling journey.

Finally, to make sure that you’re getting the best possible quote, compare different prices between various providers. Some providers may be more lenient with their conditions, thus leading to a better quote.

The cargo transport industry can be complex and confusing, especially when dealing with insurance costs. That’s why we make semi-truck financing easy with our simple loan application and approval process!

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