How the Driver Shortage Affects Consumers & How Companies Can Limit the Impact

If you’ve turned on the news recently or picked up a newspaper, you’ve probably heard about the shortage of truck drivers. Why is it big news these days?

Well, most specifically, you probably heard about the truck driver shortage in conjunction with the recent ransomware attack on and shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. Most of us only had a peripheral knowledge of this pipeline prior to the shutdown, but it’s responsible for carrying 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel per day to locations across the East Coast. By some estimates, that’s almost 50 percent of the fuel used on this side of the country.

When it shut down, its disruption drew a lot of attention. Consumers worried about when and how to get the gas they needed for their cars, and airlines worried about getting jet fuel to fly their planes across the country and around the world. 

Gas stations were left wondering how to get the gasoline they needed to keep the pumps going until the pipeline was turned back on — and that’s where truck drivers entered the conversation. 

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Instead of having convenient access points where gas could be obtained and transported from, truck drivers now needed to travel further to get to the gas in the first place. And on top of that, there simply aren’t enough drivers to go around.

That left gas stations without gasoline and frustrated consumers dealing with empty tanks and higher gas prices. 

Now consider this: That’s only one example of how a truck driver shortage compounds problems with supply and affects consumers. Today, we’re exploring the impact of the shortage in even more depth.

The Consumer Impact of a Driver Shortage

It’s a harsh truth, but most people have little understanding or concern about a big-picture concept like a driver shortage until it impacts their lives in some way.

Many Americans simply don’t consider the role truck drivers play in keeping America running. While that changed some during the pandemic, as the light was shined on the essential role truck drivers play, there’s still not a great understanding of just how important drivers are.

So: Just how important are they? Without truck drivers, this scenario would unfold:

  • Within 24 hours, mail and package delivery would come to a halt.
  • Within two to three days, fresh food would begin to disappear from grocery stores and restaurants. Banks would begin to run out of cash. Toilet paper and other dry goods would be nowhere to be found.
  • Within a week, a lack of fuel would keep cars off the road, including first responders.

Whew! That’s a lot to think about, right?! Nearly 70 percent of all freight moved across the United States is done by truck, so when there aren’t enough drivers, things stop moving — and everyone is impacted. 

To drive this even closer to home: How many times in the last year have you experienced shipping challenges with an item you ordered to be delivered to your home? 

How Trucking Carriers Can Help

The trucking industry has long been known as an industry plagued by rapid turnover. That trend accelerated during the pandemic, as hard conditions and overall stress led many drivers to reconsider their work and whether they wanted to pursue a different career.

With that said, though, trucking companies can improve retention and lessen the potential impact of a shortage on consumers. And with the high cost of turnover, it benefits carriers to focus in these areas.

First and foremost, treat your drivers as truly essential, and give them an outlet to share feedback and concerns. Partnering with WorkHound to offer a continuous feedback mechanism is a great way to accomplish this goal. By allowing your drivers the opportunity to quickly provide insights and ask questions, you’re giving them an easily accessible outlet to gain much-needed assistance, even from afar.

The next step? Turn that feedback into action. This translates into mutual trust and respect. In the long run, that’s how turnover is minimized and it’s why drivers stick around. Simple, right?

Drivers are vitally important — not only to your company, but to our country and our world as a whole. They merit respect from every level of your organization, at every point during their employment.

At WorkHound, helping carriers keep high-quality drivers happy is our specialty. We’d love the chance to see how we might help your company minimize turnover and contribute toward improving the industry-wide driver shortage. 

Looking to gain insights into what your drivers need and want? Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help!