Scientist Tells Lawmakers Solving ‘Driver Shortage’ is Simple: Stop Wasting Truckers’ Time
Washington D.C. — A scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says solving the so-called driver shortage is simple.
Testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee last Wednesday, David Correll, a research scientist at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, claimed the “perceived shortage” of truck drivers is due to “chronic underutilization” of truckers’ driving hours.
“Based on our analysis of electronic working records of truck drivers, I estimate that American long-haul, full truckload truck drivers spend on average 6.5 hours of every working day driving, yet according to federal safety regulations they are allowed to drive 11 hours per day,” Correll told the House panel. “This, of course, implies that 40% of America’s trucking capacity is left on the table every day.”
Correll said he and his team have analyzed working hours of more than 4,000 over-the-road truckers from 2016 to 2020, as well as data provided by shippers and brokers of thousands of pickup and delivery appointments.
“This chronic underutilization problem does not seem to be a function of what the drivers themselves do or don’t do, but rather an unfortunate consequence of our conventions for scheduling and processing the pickup and delivery appointments. What we are facing is a software problem not necessarily a hardware problem at the warehouses and distribution centers where the truck drivers show up.”
Correll indicated his research suggests the detention of truck drivers varies at “predictable cycles based on the time of day of their arrival.”
For instance, he said drivers who arrive during first shift warehouse appointments on weekdays — typically from 5 or 6 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. — are processed much more quickly on average than drivers who arrive outside these first shift hours.
He also identified weekend utilization of truckers’ time as a major problem.
“The days that drivers show the ability to offer surge capacity are on the weekends,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve also observed that in the data and in anecdotal conversations that there are far fewer freight appointments available to truck drivers on weekends.”
Further, Correll argued it wouldn’t take much utilization improvement to effectively wipe out the notion of a driver shortage.
“In fact, by adding only 18 valuable driving minutes back to every existing truck driver’s day could be enough to overcome what many of us feel is a driver shortage,” he stated.
Moreover, Correll asserted that if lawmakers and industry stakeholders are really serious about unclogging America’s supply chain, then addressing detention is “fundamental to any meaningful effort to coming up with a solution.”
WATCH Correll’s entire remarks below.