semi truck shortageIn the trucking industry, we hear a lot about a shortage of truck drivers and how that’s to blame for a lot of the logistics holdups our country is facing. While hiring and retaining truck drivers is definitely an issue that a lot of carriers are facing, there’s another that’s proving to be just as much of an obstacle; a shortage of semi-trucks.  

Why is There a Truck Shortage?

semi-truck shortageIf you’ve tried to buy a personal car, pick-up truck, or SUV in the past two years, you’re probably aware of the microchip shortage that the auto industry is facing. Unfortunately for fleet managers and would-be owner operators, this is an issue for the trucking industry as well.  

The problem is that there’s a shortage of the microchips that go into almost all consumer and commercial vehicles. These microchips are used to control important vehicle functions including everything from air conditioning to lane assist features.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic when lockdowns were initiated, people started driving less and staying in more, and using personal electronics like phones, tablets, and laptops. The factories that create these microchips started pumping out more and more of these personal electronic microchips while slashing the number of automotive microchips they made.  

Fast forward to today and the demand for new vehicles has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Lockdowns are over and the pandemic overall is pretty much in the rearview mirror in the United States.  

Unfortunately, these microchip factories haven’t caught back up with production of automotive microchips. Thanks to a huge number of factors including incentive to produce more profitable microchips for 5G smartphones, energy usage regulations, and strict ZERO Covid policies still being implemented in China, microchip production is still slowed.  

How is the Semi Truck Shortage Affecting the Trucking Industry?

The two main groups being affected by the semi-truck shortage are fleet managers and owner operators. Owner operators eager to either buy their first truck or upgrade to a new one are finding it hard to do so with limited inventory and skyrocketing prices for both new and used trucks. Many dealers across the U.S were sold out of semi-trucks by the end of January this year. 

Some fleet managers and recruiting teams are getting to the point where they can’t expand the way they’d like to because they’re not able to acquire the trucks they need.  

Jason Kent Crowell

Jason Crowell, Director of Recruiting, CCT

Jason Crowell, Director of Recruiting with Drive My Way client, Custom Commodities Transport is one such person affected by the trucking shortage.  

“We were getting very close to having to stop advertising our jobs because of the semi-truck shortage. Luckily, it didn’t come to that. It’s definitely a very interesting time for the salespeople, the operations people, and certainly for the recruiters.” 

What Can Recruiters Do?

The best thing recruiters can do is nurture the relationships they’ve built with driver candidates even if they don’t have the trucks to put them in right now.  

“What we’re having to do is nurture some of those relationships that our recruiters are making a bit longer, because we may not have the truck capacity at the moment to hire them even if they’re a good fit for us.” – Jason Crowell, Director of Recruiting, Custom Commodities Transport

While it’s not the ideal situation, continuing to check in with quality driver candidates by maintaining regular touchpoints will give recruiters a better chance of landing them once their fleet has the capacity to bring them on.  

Will the Truck Shortage End Soon?

Some reports say that microchip production is ramping back up, but not to the levels we saw pre-pandemic. 

There’s some speculation that even when the supply chain for microchips returns to normal, we still won’t be seeing full lots of semis like we did in years past. Why?  

Through this ordeal, auto manufacturers have learned It’s more profitable and efficient to build only what’s needed instead of having huge numbers of trucks shipped out that may sit on the lot for months. 

The best thing for fleet managers and owner operators to do is to assume this is the new normal for the time being and adjust their plans to purchase new semi-trucks accordingly.

There may be a time when microchip production increases and we have a surplus of semi-trucks readily available for purchase, but that unfortunately doesn’t look like any time soon.

Custom Commodities Transport Partners with Drive My Way for Success

Custom Commodities Transport is the nation’s largest transporter of Activated Carbon. See how they worked with Drive My Way to meet their driver needs.

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hours of service proposed rule

You may have heard of the recent hours of service proposed rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). On Aug 14, the agency issued a long-awaited proposal intended to put more power back in the hands of drivers to make decisions about safety. The FMCSA has been working on the new HOS proposed rules since August 2018. Since then, it received more than 5,200 comments- mostly from truck drivers and carriers asking for more flexibility from the strict regulations which could force them to drive while tired. The agency has extended the comment period until October 21, so you can still chime in with your thoughts. Here’s what’s you need to know:

What Are the Proposed Rules?

  • Flexibility for the 30-Minute Break Rule:

    The new proposal aims to increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption of at least 30 minutes and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.

  • Modifying the Sleeper-Berth Exception:

    Modifying the sleeper berth exception will allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: One period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither of these would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.

  • Allowing One Off-Duty Break of at Least 30 Minutes:

    The new rule would allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours. It would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.

  • Modifying the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception:

    This change would to the adverse driving conditions exception extends the allowable driving window. An additional two hours will be added to the maximum window during which driving is permitted. This allows drivers greater flexibility.

  • Changing to the Short-Haul Exception:

    The new rule would change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers. It lengthens the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours. In addition, it extends the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

What Stays the Same?

  • The proposed rules would NOT increase driving time
  • They would continue to prevent commercial motor vehicle operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status

What Now?

The hours of service proposed rule was greeted well by industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The comment period has been extended until October 21, with a possibility of being extended past that. Truck drivers and carriers can make their voices heard before the rules become finalized.


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