OOIDA Foundation lays out the facts of the ‘driver shortage’

November 16, 2021

Land Line Staff


Drivers need to arm themselves for the moments they will be faced with someone parroting the assertion that there is a driver shortage.

To help them rebut that false story, the OOIDA Foundation has created a one-pager, a brief and concise take on the issue, and also a longer white paper on the issue.

The OOIDA Foundation is the research and education arm of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The OOIDA Foundation researches safety and other issues from the professional driver’s perspective.

The OOIDA Foundation points out that much of the discussion surrounding this driver shortage stems from several statements released by the American Trucking Associations suggesting that the trucking industry is short about 80,000 drivers and the shortage could surpass 160,000 drivers by 2030. The Foundation has carefully reviewed the facts and determined instead that the industry is beset by retention issues and often an unattractive working environment largely caused by long hours and inadequate compensation.

In its one-pager, the OOIDA Foundation offers a graphic to share depicting a typical day for an owner-operator. It clearly shows those not in the business the bottlenecks in the supply chain caused by shippers and receivers. As drivers know, every moment a shipper or receiver holds up a driver at the dock can cause havoc with the driver’s hours of service.

The longer white paper on the issue goes into more detail. It questions the lack of verifiable, substantial methodology underlying the assertions made by the American Trucking Associations.

It also cites reporting in May from Greg Rosalsky, a writer and reporter at NPR’s Planet Money, on the unsubstantiated driver shortage.

“The American Trucking Associations has been making this argument since the 1980s, yet store shelves somehow remained stocked,” Rosalsky wrote.

In addition, the white paper cites a 2019 study published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that explained that market forces suggest there is no driver shortage. The true issue is not a driver shortage but driver retention, the bureau surmised.

The OOIDA Foundation hopes the one-pagers and white papers it creates help professional drivers and their allies to educate officials on issues important to the trucking industry, such as the problem with driver retention. Read more about the Foundation’s research and surveys here.

For further reading on the driver shortage and other issues, check out stances taken by Land Line’s opinion columnists.