Long-term trends may cause a significant increase in the driver shortage in the next decade, according to a new analysis paper from the American Trucking Assns. (ATA). The paper states that the “current shortage is acute and limited primarily to the truckload sector of the industry; but that long-term trends could cause the shortage to explode in the next decade.”

“Carriers and fleet executives have begun expressing concern about their ability to identify and hire qualified professional drivers,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist, “and with this report, we tried to identify where the impacts were being felt the most, why the shortage is increasingly worrisome and why it has the potential to get worse.”

ATA said that the bulk of the shortage was confined to long-haul, over-the-road truckload carriers, but that private fleets and less-than-truckload carriers may have some difficulty hiring drivers.

“ATA estimates the current shortage of drivers to be in the 20,000 to 25,000 range in the for-hire truckload market . . .  on a base of roughly 750,000 trucks,” the report said. The report went on to state that if current trends continue, the shortage has the potential to grow to 239,000 over the next decade.

ATA pointed out that regulatory changes, such as hours-of-service changes and CSA in combination with the industry growth, retirements and drivers leaving the industry, will exacerbate the shortage.

“On average, trucking will need to recruit nearly 100,000 new drivers every year to keep up with demand for drivers,” Costello said, “with nearly two-thirds of the need coming from industry growth and retirements.”