Like India and some other markets, even the USA is facing a shortage of skilled truck drivers in the near future.
Earlier this month, Cummins Inc and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) celebrated the trucking profession in Indianapolis while also addressing the nationwide shortage of driving professionals. At the National Truck Driving Championships held in Indiana from August 10-13, more than 430 drivers from across the USA, represented different companies and fleets, competing in various skills competitions.
The Indiana-based engine manufacturer Cummins is supporting the championships to bring attention to the nationwide truck driver shortage and to highlight how the profession is improving. “Our nation’s economy is very much dependent on the trucking industry, and at the heart of it is the driver,” said Amy Boerger, Cummins’ vice-president of sales. “This week we are seeing the best of the best show their skills. And, I am proud that Cummins, with our engines and technology, helps truck-drivers work in a safer, more dependable atmosphere. Continuing and growing this proud and important segment of our economy is critical to how we do business and how Americans receive the goods they expect.”
According to the ATA, the driver shortage right now is near 48,000 and, if current trends hold, this number may reach 175,000 by 2024. The driver shortage is, in part, due to a higher population of drivers nearing retirement age. As they retire, the industry is not backfilling positions in the younger generations at a rate to match retirement attrition.
For Americans, a driver shortage could negatively impact consumer in many ways, from higher costs to have products delivered, to longer delays in receiving products, whether it is at home, the grocery or the local pharmacy.
To attract the next generation of drivers, Cummins, the ATA and other industry-leading companies are working to highlight the innovations in today’s trucks and in the profession. Technological advancements and engine performance are key principles of how Cummins designs its products. From tyres to the engine, to the chairs, to the sleepers, trucks are state-of-the-art vehicles that meet stringent emissions and fuel economy standards while still an enjoyable experience for drivers.
For Bill West, driving a truck is a rewarding profession on many levels. “It provides you freedom, flexibility and security. It is a safe profession where you can earn six-figures,” said West, America’s Road Team Captain at the Truck Driving Championships and owner of a Cummins-powered Ram truck. “I get up every day and know the work I am doing directly impacts the American economy. I can also see real opportunity professionally and personally. There are more career development opportunities than there used to be and now most drivers get to see our families at least every other day, rather than once a month like it used to be. This is a great profession and I encourage others to look into it.”
West believes technologies like automatic manual transmission, blind spot identification and adaptive cruise control allow drivers to concentrate on driving safely and with greater ease. He also sees the industry becoming more regional which means less time on the road and more time with his family.