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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!

Self-Driving Semis: The Future of the Trucking Industry

Photo Credit: Wired

As artificial intelligence increases in modernity and practicality, its usage increases across all industries and fields, and trucking is no exception. Society is slowly warming up to the idea of self-driving cars, but self-driving semi-trucks is severely more frightening of a concept. Self-driving semis seem riskier because they’re bigger and more physically intimidating, but the technology is not as different as you might think.

Government Involvement

United States government research facilities have allowed for the testing of self-driving vehicles nationwide. Over 12 states have rolled out programs to test the practicality and safety of self-driving trucks and ultimately the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will determine the rules and regulations. This government involvement will limit the extent of biases from specific companies.

Is Autonomous Technology Safe?

One of the main public concerns is safety. Software can often be inconsistent due to bugs and programming errors, and people tend to trust themselves more than a computer. Industry experts are even predicting that once the technology is perfected, this AI opportunity could dramatically increase safety on the roads. Humans make mistakes, and machines are typically much more consistent and predictable since they’re automatic in their decision making.

Additionally, autonomous driving comes with the added benefit of an instant reaction time, eliminating the single largest source of automotive accidents, which is human error. The number of front and back-end collisions will be reduced because this technology will monitor and maintain safe distances between vehicles.

You’re not Giving up ALL Control

While these advancements are coming at us quick, the transition definitely won’t be instantaneous. The switch to self-driving vehicles will most likely happen in smaller pieces incorporated into the current system. For the foreseeable future, automation in large scale transportation vehicles will still be overseen by a living, breathing human. There will be a tech-savvy person in the cab catching any technical errors or insights that need to be handled. This measure will mostly be a “just in case” sort of arrangement.

Theoretically, the truck should be mostly automatic, but it’s important to have a safety net, especially since these trucks will be on the roads with non-self-driving vehicles. Human error is simply something that cannot be planned for or programmed into a software, so the human presence is mostly to account for other drivers on the road and not the truck itself.

Job Security

This component of the process is also important to the livelihoods of truckers everywhere. A big concern with self-driving semi-trucks is that they will put drivers out of work and damage the industry and culture that truckers have built. Since self-driving cars will still have to be monitored and accompanied by actual living people, truckers will be able to stay employed even if their job becomes slightly more automatic.

Decreasing a Driver’s Heavy Workload

One of the biggest problems in the trucking industry right now is overworked drivers. There is currently a national driver shortage that is leading to tired and overstretched days that result in decreased productivity and an increased risk of mistakes and accidents. As mentioned previously, we would be gradually easing into this new era of self-driving vehicles. That would mean that slowly, the workload for truckers would get more and more manageable as we settle into these new advancements. The exhaustion and over-exertion of the job could potentially be a thing of the past.

Companies That Are Making It Happen

There are many companies who want a place at this table. It is projected to be the future of the industry, therefore companies such as Embark and Daimler are starting to invest more and more in recent years into the process. Embark comments that self-driving semis are even more crucial to the future of our roads than self-driving cars. The incredible influence that this technology could have on delivery, productivity and general efficiency in countless industries makes this all a huge potential for profit.

This is an immensely controversial topic. Many fear for what self-driving vehicles mean for safety and job prospects alike. While it’s impossible to truly predict these things until we see them happen in real time, industry experts are optimistic about what it means for drivers and their employers. If this transition goes as predicted, companies can increase profits and drivers will have improved qualities of life, all with the benefit of added safety. Autonomous vehicle testing is already in progress and growth and development of this new and innovative technology is expected to blossom in upcoming years.

At Mission Financial, we’re here to help you start your trucking career with semi-truck financing options.  We have amazing rates, customer service, and informative resources that will help you make the smartest decisions when getting started.

Uber Chooses Chicago as Its New Freight Headquarters

Image credit: Cargo Trans Inc

 

Uber recently announced that it would be funding a new Freight Business Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. They revealed plans for office space in the famous River District taking up residence in a historic Post Office that has been uninhabited for years, until now. Their goal is to streamline their entire operations by centralizing corporate space.

The branch of the popular drive-share service allows for semi-truck drivers to lend their services to a variety of businesses on a more temporary basis than traditional industry contracts. The division matches shippers to truckers than can fulfill their needs, allowing truckers to have increased control when and where they work. Drivers can select a route or trip individually and receive pricing and timelines upfront. This program is available throughout both the United States and Europe.

Company Growth

The young company started its Freight Division a little over two years ago in May of 2017 and has already grown at an astonishing pace. The digital broker has expanded to $350 million in gross annual bookings in that short time, according to early-year paperwork. Reportedly, the business services 400,00 drivers to 1,000 businesses needing shipping. This growth led to a need for an increase in infrastructure, hence the search for a new headquarters. This astonishing progression is what has allowed Uber to make a name for itself alongside more traditional freight companies.

Why Chicago?

Chicago has long been a popular shipping hub, making it a good place for drivers to flock to for dependable work. The transportation industry has blossomed in the area to allow for a large pool of qualified trucking experts and professionals that will set Uber up for success when they begin their employing process. The area is also known for its logistics expertise which will hopefully aid in development. Uber Freight also already had about 1,000 employees in the area, which will be a great starting point when building the operation. The area is also known for its tech talent, helping to advance the technological future of trucking.

The Investment

The current estimate of investment sits at around $200 million going into the region annually through Uber Freight, which contains the potential for tremendous impact. The growth that this could bring to the transportation hub that is already thriving in Chicago is potentially boundless. While Uber faces competition from more established companies such as the Seattle-based Convoy, this hefty investment should help Uber compete with older and more seasoned veterans. To an extent, it has already paid off. The big company has already landed deals with expensive clients such as Land O’ Lakes.

The Immediate Impact

This has been an immensely controversial announcement due to the fluctuating reputation of Uber themselves. While Uber claims that their involvement in the areas has brought upwards of $1 billion through its involvement over the past few years, the company has a reputation for clashing with local government. This leaves many Chicago locals concerned for how the big business will impact the integrity of their city. Whether or not you agree with the moral standings of the company, it’s clear that this development will bring a steep increase of transport and related jobs to the area, as well as a significant amount of added income for the city and its people.

In addition to the immediate impact on the area, it brings change to the trucking industry in general with the new structure of the program. The structure of the program allows drivers to have significantly increased control over their hours since they can accept trips on a case-by-case basis that allows them to work as much or as little as is necessary. This could be an immensely beneficial revolution for the industry. It would help to eliminate excessive hours that are often forced onto truckers by their employers, which would benefit their overall quality of life. On the other hand, there is currently a national driver shortage in long-haul trucking, and companies wouldn’t have to hire full-time truck drivers and could instead fill in gaps with whatever drivers want to work on that route.

The Future of the Industry

What Uber has done with the traditional structure of acquiring drivers is revolutionary. The phone-based booking system allows drivers to have more control over their routes and see the payment plan upfront. While the rates for routes are somewhat inconsistent, experts agree that this internet-based agreement system is the route for the industry in the immediate future in response to recent national shortages. The system will additionally improve efficiency. Companies can get more routes done in a shorter amount of time because the system doesn’t have a set number of drivers. They can send more people out onto the road without having to wait for the previous drivers to return from their routes.

To learn more about the changing transportation and freight industry, check out our blog today!

 

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