A whopping 40% of the fleets responding to the latest Fleet Sentiment Report, produced by CK Commercial Vehicle Research (CKCVR), said they are now affected by a driver shortage—and another 25% of the respondents expect the shortage of “good drivers” will curtail their ability to grow their businesses in the future.

Covering the third quarter of this year, the report found that of those reporting an immediate concern, 75% need drivers to fill current vacant seats; 63% say the shortage it is limiting their ability to add capacity, and 42% say the shortage is changing how they deploy their fleet, “such as targeting more regional and local freight opportunities instead of long haul loads.”

“Freight demand is good among the majority of fleets that report to us,” explained CKCVR founder Chris Kemmer, “but some could definitely haul more if they could find good drivers. Even for those that have a full complement of drivers now there is concern that this scarce resource will likely impact their future growth potential.”

CKCVR’s Q3 ‘11 Fleet Sentiment Buying Index, which measured the number of fleets planning to place orders for power units and trailers in the next three months rose to 104.3. According to Kemmer, the increase “came exclusively from an added number of fleets planning trailer orders.”

The index table can be accessed via www.ckcvr.com

Kemmer said CKCVR regularly polls a group of small, medium and large for-hire, private and government fleet operators about their equipment purchasing plans and overall fleet environment. The quarterly Fleet Sentiment survey includes questions about short and longer term equipment buying plans, preferred OEM, new specs, current fleet capacity vs. freight demand, equipment utilization rates including the percent of parked vehicles, 2010 emission engine choices, the impact of a driver shortage and a product discussion. Complete survey results are reported in the Fleet Sentiment Report, a quarterly CKCVR report. For more information about the report, go to www.ckcvr.com/FSR.html or e-mail Kemmer at chris@ckcvr.com.