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The Last Word

How Trucking Can Rise Above Current Industry Challenges

By Jeremy Reymer

Jeremy Headshot 2021As leaders in the trucking industry, we're all acutely aware of the unprecedented challenges we're facing daily. Unfortunately, these challenges are nothing new. According to the most recent ATRI survey, "Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry - 2021", the driver shortage topped the list for the fifth year in a row. Industry thought leaders such as the American Trucking Associations’ Bob Costello, chief economist and senior vice president, estimate that the industry is short nearly 80,000 drivers, and many expect this to be on the lower end of the actual number.

An Increasing Loss in Drivers

Several reasons can be attributed to this increasing loss in drivers over the last few years. The first is the introduction of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, which has been steadily disqualifying non-compliant drivers since January 2020. According to the FMCSA, over 70,000 drivers have been removed or disqualified from operating a CMV due to the Clearinghouse.

Add to that an aging workforce – the average age of a truck driver is 55 years old; the average age of a new entrant is 35 years old – coupled with a global pandemic that exacerbated drivers leaving the industry while also restricting new entrants from joining, and you’ve got a perfect storm that has led to the challenging driver shortage we currently face.

So, what are industry leaders like us going to do about it?

Recognizing Areas of Opportunity in Recruiting

Of course, it's not all doom and gloom in the industry we all love and are devoted to. There are plenty of opportunities available for carriers of all shapes and sizes to take action. Here are a few examples:

  • Throughout the pandemic, the trucking industry has experienced a surge of respect and appreciation from the public at large. Recruiters should use this newfound limelight to rally support, open people's eyes to the industry's impact on everyday lives and draw new driver candidates out of the woodwork.
  • The DRIVE-Safe Act, if passed, will allow 18–21-year-olds to break into the industry, earn their CDL, and drive in an interstate capacity. In the meantime, it is encouraging that the recently signed, bipartisan infrastructure bill includes a pilot program that would allow up to 3,000 18–21-year-olds to operate in an interstate capacity with the safety caveats that were spelled out in the DRIVE-Safe Act. Additionally, this pilot program would provide visibility into how this new pool of younger drivers performs from a safety and compliance standpoint versus their older, more experienced peers.
  • Another area of opportunity is looking to marginalized groups that, until recently, had little to no representation in the trucking industry. While women make up nearly 50% of the workforce, they hold just under 8% of truck driving jobs. And working with EB3 Permanent Work Authorization candidates can widen this pool even further by hiring skilled workers from other countries who can legally work in the U.S.
  • One final demographic that is beginning to gain traction is through the employment of qualified ex-offenders. By tapping into this workforce segment that often struggles to find gainful employment, we can unleash a driving force of loyal workers who treasure the second chance afforded them.

The bottom line

We have to look at the challenges facing our industry and say to ourselves, "We’re too good not to be better. We must act now." It's putting more drivers – including younger drivers with proper training – through development programs earlier. It's getting experienced drivers who have left the industry to come back. It's becoming more inclusive and accepting of diverse and alternative sources. It's opening up our minds to a world of possibilities, where the trucking industry can be creative, tech-savvy and bold. 

Fellow leaders, it’s time to step up and fight for change in this industry that the entire world relies upon! We have the tools, the knowledge and the know-how—it’s time to take action.


As Founder and CEO of DriverReach, Jeremy Reymer is passionate and innovative in addressing today’s challenges with recruiting CDL drivers. Reymer brings nearly 20 years of experience in the trucking industry as both a carrier and a vendor, having led a small truckload operation as well as a regional CDL driver staffing company. In 2016, Reymer founded DriverReach, a modern driver recruiting management solution to address the ongoing driver shortage.


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Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
Little Rock, AR 72201

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Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
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