Trucking Companies Face Challenges as Economy Rebounds
As the U.S. economy begins to haul itself back into the black, American trucking companies are facing up to a series of challenges. Some are positive, such as racing to meet the increased transportation demands of a resurgent North American energy sector. Other challenges, though, are proving to be more of a burden, like a lack of qualified drivers or the burden of ongoing changes to safety regulations.
Expanding into new areas and taking on more routes for clients is of course welcome by trucking companies after several lean years, brought on by the financial crisis in 2008. But this expansion becomes a frustratingly missed opportunity if insufficient driving talent exists to take advantage of it. Reports of increased competition and a massive employment churn of 97 percent (American Trucking Association figures) are not uncommon, making it difficult for owners to stick to a plan in an industry that literally runs on reliable scheduling.
The life of a trucker is well known to be a difficult one, away from family for weeks at a time and peppered with all the dangers of the road. It can also be very rewarding, with experienced drivers in the right field able to make upwards of $80,000 per year. If you can handle the time alone as well as you can a heavy load vehicle, now is the time to apply!
That said, truckers and trucking companies are quick to point out that not all of the job's barriers are personal ones. Some are put in place by third parties and are out of the hands of individual drivers, like the contentious health and safety restrictions that many say can seriously impact their efficiency and earnings. From understandable limits on driving hours, to more officious restrictions such as poorly completed forms or minor maintenance quibbles, breaches of the federal CSA (Compliance Safety Accountability) program carry penalties in the form of points against a driver. Some they can control, others less so, but all add up to a blot on the individual's record that could come back to haunt them on future jobs.
Some positive developments on this front were made last month, when Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx promised to reduce red tape and help both haulage companies and their drivers to save time and money. Safety must obviously remain a prime concern for those of us operating in what can be a complex and dangerous industry. Implementing only those measures that truly improve safety and effectively training new driving talent are two key areas of focus for the haulage sector, if it is to successfully handle the extra business that is rapidly coming its way.
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