WATERLOO, Iowa --- New regulations in the trucking industry have some industry observers concerned about a driver shortage.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made changes in rules to place more responsibility for safety, log books and hours of service on the shoulders of drivers. In the past, rules focused more on the companies that employed drivers.

Some industry participants estimate the changes could cull the number of eligible drivers by as much as 30 percent.

"There will be major, major driver shortages as we move into 2011 and beyond," Jeremy Geertsma, an Expeditors' Detroit district manager, told an audience at the Commodity Trends 2011 Outlook conference last fall in Michigan.

An aging driver pool and tougher safety regulations will cut into driver ranks by an estimated 200,000, he said.

Some have called the new rules the most comprehensive regulatory change in years.

But carriers also say the changes have a legitimate purpose.

"It's going to weed out the bad drivers," said Darrin Gray, president of Gray Transportation in Waterloo. "It's out there as a scorecard, so when you hire them you know what you're getting because of their performance on the road."

The new rules have been in place since December, Gray said.

"I didn't lose any drivers," he said.

He noted state departments of transportation can't suspend licenses, but drivers are graded based on their adherence to the rules. Drivers who don't follow the rules will be assessed penalty points that could cost them job opportunities and prime-level pay, Gray said.

"What we're going to see in the near future is drivers will make more money based on a lower score," he said. "Those are considered more premium drivers."

Gray noted there didn't seem to be a shortage of applicants.

The new rules help carriers get a gauge on driver qualifications, Gray noted.

"We're talking to drivers every day, some who are 500 to 1,000 miles away, so it's not practical to do a face-to-face interview," he said. "Any information that tells us the drivers' history helps us out."

Chuck Andrews, president of SBS Trucking in Waterloo, isn't sure how much effect the new rules will have.

"It has definitely changed in that the quality of the driver is going to have to be a lot better," Andrews said. "Their driving records and a lot of that stuff, a lot of companies are really tightening up qualifications because of this. And part of that ... you get into the medical things, the health of the drivers. It's going to have a definite effect."

Estes Express Lines in Waterloo has 10 local drivers, which is as many as ever, said Tony McNally, account manager.

He said he wasn't sure how the rules would affect the industry.

"I know they're talking about maybe reducing hours and stuff like that, and that would affect all trucking companies," he said.

(6) comments

babyboomer
babyboomer

It's great to want safer drivers but shouldn't the same standards be used for those who drive four-wheelers also. If it did there would be lots of drivers without licenses. Also this point system puts points against a driver for accidents or fender benders that aren't even their fault. Just like anything else a few bad apples puts a stigma against all. The majority of truck drivers are good hardworking people.

dalewhiplash60
dalewhiplash60

A lot of the violations are beond driver control. Shippers/recievers and companys should ALSO be held accountable! If a truck has a delivery/pick up toward the end of the shift then gets held up for hours (which puts the driver over hours) only to be told they MUST leave the property after "dock out" because there is no truck parking there. In big citys, the nearest "truck parking" can be over an hour away! Guess who is in violation? Putting the driver & public at risk or get charged with tresspassing then still must leave is just unexceptable but happens "quietly" every single day!

babyboomer
babyboomer

You are so right dale! Recently during the big storm a driver tried to pull over in a town to wait out the storm and was told by the local police officer there were too many trucks already parked there and he had to move on; so who put whom at risk? Many places treat truckers like they're a bunch of criminals or something.

Windancer
Windancer

There are BAD DOT officers, out there, who are going to give a ticket...NO MATTER WHAT. If they have to do an inspection. I got a brake light out, (that I can't pretrip) 18 pts. This may weed out bad drivers. But it's also gonna make good drivers' families go hungry, too. What they need to concentrate on is the aggressive 4 wheelers. These are the major causes of accidents. NOT us.

I Scream In The Sun
I Scream In The Sun

BabyBoomer and WindAncer -

I don't see how this has anything to do with 4 wheelers. What people do with ATV's off road is their own business, and has pretty much nothing to do with highway commerce.

dalewhiplash60
dalewhiplash60

the term "4 wheelers" is vehicles with 4 wheels, not 4 wheel ATV's and off road vehicles. The D.O.T have quota's to meet just like any law enforcment. It just seems like states are out of money and are turning to an industry that can't fight unjust tickets. There is an orginization called OOIDA thats looking out for the drivers. Not to break any laws but to ensure the laws are fair and just! Otherwise the trucking industry will have competitors from south of the boarder, which, by and large, has a VERY poor safty rating.

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