Truck industry 'starving' for drivers; a problem exacerbated by the pandemic

The Michigan Trucking Association estimates there are 100,000 jobs available, now, to meet the demand for truck drivers.

President Mickey Blashfield says there has been a shortage of truckers for more than a decade, but the pandemic only made it worse.

Blashfield says many of the veteran drivers don’t want to take on the challenge of new rules like electronic logs and the new rules for cross-border essential workers.

Joe Marchand, a Windsor trucker with three million miles to his credit agrees the shortage is getting worse.

“The industry has been starving for drivers probably over the last 15 years,” says Marchand who will have 24 years behind the big wheel this April.

“A lot of the veterans that are older than I am are getting out of it due to the pandemic, due to the rules and regulations with e-logs,” he says. “They want out. They’re done with all the change. They’re done with all the scrutiny.”

Marchand also says the new “breed” of driver entering the industry doesn’t want to put their time in, on long hauls.

“They want to work day in and day out but go home every day,” which has taken Marchand more than a decade to achieve.

Blashfield says the industry is trying to recruit younger drivers to fill the void, but says a new hurdle is insurance.

Many insurance companies, according to Blashfield, don’t want to take on the risk of younger drivers who have no experience.

And, with pandemic shutdowns, drivers ready to take their road tests face long delays as the system tries to get caught up with a backlog of truckers needing to take tests or renew their licences.

There is some good news.

Blashfield says many companies have boosted their pay since the pandemic started, to keep essential workers on the road.

Blashfield says over 75 per cent of all goods are shipped exclusively by truck.

“We have a little phrase, within the industry; if you got it, a truck brought it.”