The trucking industry is responsible for transporting goods all over the nation as well as our bordering countries moving roughly 72.5% of the U.S.’s freight. From food to cars or raw materials and oil, freight trucks carry a variety of consumer goods. As the American Trucking Association puts it, every good in the U.S has been on a truck at some point in its journey.
Let’s take a look at what the trucking industry has done over the last few years and where it’s headed.
General Trucking Statistics
The trucking industry moved 11.84 billion tons of freight.
Trucks moved a total of $772 billion worth of freight.
67% of goods moved between the U.S. and Canada are transported by trucks.
83% of cross-border trade with Mexico is moved by trucks.
72% of freight transported in the U.S. is hauled by trucks.
*Source: American Trucking Association
Economics and Industry Data
Employment Demographics and Compensation
While the trucking industry is primarily a male-dominant workforce, there was only about a two percent increase in the number of women employed in the last 18 years, and recruiting female drivers is a problem the industry continues to face. It is, however, a racially diverse industry. The industry’s average median salary is not very competitive compared to other sectors, which may contribute to the high turnover rate and difficulty in recruiting drivers.
In 2019, there were 3.6 million truck drivers employed in the U.S.
- 7.95 million people were employed in trucking-related jobs in the U.S.
- 6.7% of the truck drivers in the U.S are women.
- 41.5% of the trucking industry drivers are minorities.
The average age of drivers in the trucking industry is 46 years old.
The average annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is $46,370.
The average annual salary for light or delivery service truck drivers is $41,960.
In July 2020, the average hourly earnings for employees in the industry was $26.30.
The average industry employee worked 41.2 hours per week in July 2020.
Statistics on Driver Shortages
Freight is on the rise, and the trucking industry needs more truck drivers to manage. One of the leading problems the industry is currently facing is the shortage of truck drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the industry has been struggling with this problem on and off since 2015. One of the leading causes keeping the driver shortage high is the high average age of the current workforce.
The industry is struggling to replace retirees and new drivers have a high turnover. More companies are cracking down on safety prioritization and are having trouble finding qualified drivers.
In 2018, the trucking industry was short 60,800 drivers, which was a record high and up 20 percent from the previous year.
In 2019, it was expected that the average shortage of drivers would decrease to 59,500.
Employment for truck drivers was projected to grow by only 2 percent from 2019 to 2029.
There has been a 38% drop in driver job posting activity from 2019 to 2020; trucking job posting online is shown to be ineffective.
*Source: American Trucking Association and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the ATA, the industry will need to hire about 1.1 million new drivers for the next decade or an average of 110,000 drivers per year to combat the driver shortage. The largest factor contributing to the driver shortage is retiring truck drivers who will need to be replaced with new hires, which will account for 54% of new driver hires.
Liabilities, Accidents and Fleet Driver Safety Statistics
A person who drives more on average increases their risk of having an accident. Over the years, the industry has seen an increase in crashes leading to fatalities. These types of accidents usually occur from distracted driving and other driver behaviors, as well as other drivers not knowing how to interact with a semi on the road. Trucking companies have also started to see an increase in insurance premiums due to these accidents. Companies are starting to take driver safety more seriously due to these factors.
- In 2018, 4,136 people died in large truck crashes.
- 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths that occurred in 2018 involved large trucks.
- In 2018, 74% of large truck crashes involved tractor-trailers.
- 27% of large truck crashes involved a single-unit truck in 2018.
- 52% of crash deaths involving large trucks occurred on major roads.
- 33% of crash deaths involving large trucks occurred on freeways and interstates.
The average cost of loss related to a fleet vehicle accident is $70,000.
Insurance premiums for trucking companies have seen a huge spike in the last few years, totaling around $12,000 to $14,000 today.
*Source: U.S Department of Transportation, NU Property Casualty 360, Automotive Fleet
The Future of Trucking
Self-driving automobiles have started to make their way into the U.S trucking industry. While many believe that this could put drivers out of work, these trucks still need human supervision and could be a solution to the driver shortage in the industry, as they can provide opportunities for people who wouldn’t have considered becoming a driver before. Autonomous trucks can also help decrease the chances of driver accidents on the road. Most trucking accidents are caused by human errors, but so far with this technology error is extremely minimal.
San Diego-based company TuSimple has already started testing their self-driving trucks and predicts these trucks will not only have a positive impact on the industry but the environment as well. TuSimple says its technology is aimed at transforming the trucking industry by reducing carbon emissions, lowering costs, and increasing safety.
By 2025, the global self-driving truck market is expected to reach $1,699 million.
The compound annual growth rate for the autonomous truck industry is expected to reach 18.6% by 2025.
A survey found that more than half of small businesses believe fleets will be completely autonomous in 20 years.
The same survey found that 37% of small business owners believe that fleets could go fully autonomous in as little as 10 years.
In a study conducted by TuSimple, they found that their self-driving trucks were 10% more fuel-efficient than traditional trucks.
TuSimple says applying their self-driving technology can help save about 42 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Applying TuSimple’s technology to all diesel trucks could result in saving 4 billion gallons of fuel with a cost savings of $10 billion per year.
Though the trucking industry has gone through major shifts in recent years, it still remains one of the nation’s most profitable sectors. Self-driving trucks could be the future of the trucking industry and help solve the current problems it faces. New technology can seem scary to an industry that’s been doing well for years, but embracing this change can create a safer industry and contribute to a safer environment overall.
Trucking Industry Forecast
According to the American Trucking Association’s U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2022, the U.S. is likely to see a 24 percent increase in freight tonnage in 2022. The good news is that revenue is predicted to increase by 67 percent as a result, and most of those gains will occur within the trucking industry.
Because of the decline that the industry experienced during 2019, many believe that the industry is likely to turn around and experience a gradual increase as a result of the new developments that are coming to this industry. A market flip is expected to emerge in 2022 and is one factor that can help save the several companies that are likely to go under unless the current conditions within the market improve. One report says the only way to slow down the freight market and stabilize freight prices would be to ensure a steady stream of capable commercial drivers.