“Driver Shortage” is Why New Bill to Attract Women Into Trucking Must Pass, Senators Say
Washington D.C. – Citing underrepresentation and the so-called “driver shortage,” two U.S. Senators introduced legislation this week which would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to promote the trucking industry as a viable career path for women.
U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WS) have introduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act which instructs the FMCSA Administrator to establish a “Women of Trucking Advisory Board.”
According to a statement from Sen. Moran, the newly formed board would seek to identify:
1.) Industry trends that directly or indirectly discourage women from pursuing careers in trucking.
2.) Ways trucking companies, nonprofit organizations, and trucking associations may coordinate to facilitate or support women pursuing careers in trucking.
3.) Ways to expand existing opportunities for women in the trucking agency.
4.) Opportunities to enhance trucking training, mentorship, education, and outreach programs that are exclusive to women.
“Because women are substantially underrepresented and the industry is facing a driver shortage, Congress should explore every opportunity to encourage and support the pursuit of careers in trucking by women,” Moran said.
Moran also expressed his belief that more female drivers will contribute to making U.S. roadways safer.
He explained, “Female drivers have been shown to be 20% less likely than male counterparts to be involved in a crash.”
The new legislation is backed by both the Women in Trucking Association (WIT) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Sen. Moran noted.
If the bill passes, the FMCSA Administrator will be required to submit a report on the advisory board’s findings and recommendations to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representative’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act is the second federal bill introduced this year with the stated objective of helping relieve the perceived impacts of the so-called “driver shortage.”
Earlier this year, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE-Safe Act), was introduced, and if passed, would eliminate the federal age restriction on interstate transportation.
Under the legislation, a driver as young as 18 years of age could operate a big rig in interstate commerce.
MYTH OR NOT?
The ATA says its most recent data puts the current driver shortage at approximately 60,000 and expects that number to continue to climb even reaching more than 100,000 within the next five years.
Critics argue the driver shortage is merely a myth concocted by large carriers, with chronically high turnover rates, as a means to win support from lawmakers for measures such as lowering the interstate driving age to 18.
Earlier this year, the “driver shortage” debate erupted yet again.
In a lengthy article entitled, “Is the U.S. labor market for truck drivers broken?,” Stephen Burks, a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Minnesota Morris, and Kristen Monaco with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dive deep into labor statistics and analyze labor market conditions within the trucking industry.
Their findings indicate the perceived labor shortage, particularly in the long-haul truckload segment, could be remedied by providing wages commensurate with the demands and working conditions of the profession.
In the face of intensifying scrutiny challenging the veracity of a driver shortage, ATA’s chief economist Bob Costello fired back and claimed the study was rife with “flaws.”
Read more about the BLS study and Costello’s response HERE.
No matter which side of the argument you are on, one thing is clear, the “driver shortage” narrative continues to be at the center of new and ongoing trucking-related legislative efforts.