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 min read

How a TMS Can Help Alleviate the Driver Shortage Problem

Transportation management technology can radically improve the trucking industry where it needs it most.

A woman typing in at a warehouse
Jessica Voigt

Jessica is currently the Documentation Specialist at Trans Plus. She has spent the last 3 years learning the ins and outs of the software as a Customer Support Representative and is now using her English degree to create content that showcases anything and everything that Trans Plus has to offer. When she isn’t typing at her desk she enjoys shopping, watching movies and tending to her extensive collection of houseplants.

In this guide, we’ll explore how TMS platforms can address the current problems in the trucking industry, specifically driver retention and the national driver shortage.

How TMS Can Help Alleviate the Driver Shortage Problem

When it comes to how TMS technology can impact the trucking industry, it helps to understand just how intense the driver shortage problem actually is in 2021.

The Driver Shortage Problem

Since the beginning of the pandemic (and realistically, quite a long while before), the transportation industry has seen a significant dip in drivers. Driver retention has always been historically difficult for businesses in this sector, as many drivers will simply leave for better competitor offers or decide to pursue different types of employment elsewhere. As a result, trucking companies must continuously depend on entry-level drivers to get their work done.

In the past six years alone, the percentage of carriers who have been recruiting entry-level truck drivers has been raised from 30% to 50%. That’s a significant number-- and trucking companies are paying the price to onboard and train these new hires. As a result, more and more fleets are dealing with cost increases and overall reduction in productivity.

This isn’t just speculation, either. The American Trucking Association recently released a statement and update to the “Truck Driver Shortage Analysis”, which is a report that carriers use to track the trend of the driver shortage. In this analysis, the ATA found that, “the transportation industry could lose nearly 100,000 drivers in the next five years and 160,000 drivers by 2028.”

Many truckers choose to leave their companies due to a low rate of job satisfaction. Carriers have much more control over this than they might think. Specifically, carriers can improve the overall efficiency of their companies and boost their drivers’ quality of life by implementing transportation management technology. But how exactly does this work? Let’s take a look.

How TMS Can Help

Transportation management software can play a very important role in making the lives of truck drivers more appealing. TMS could improve your driver retention rate significantly, thus removing the need to spend valuable resources on new hires.

To start, transportation management software (also known as fleet management software) is making waves in the transportation industry. As eCommerce becomes the norm and more freight transportation is needed, many carriers are looking to expand their operations. However, managing hundreds of fleets can be difficult without some helpful technology. TMS platforms provide carriers with important, real-time data about the status of their trucks. Such platforms use GPS technology and tracking software to provide more clarity into where drivers are and when they will be at their destination. Thus, dispatchers and management can more effectively plan routes and schedule truck maintenance based on location with ease. This benefits not only management and customers, but truck drivers will also be able to receive support through the identification of areas that need improvement and provide coaching opportunities.

For many drivers, instances of breakdowns are incredibly stressful and might contribute to a change of career. TMS platforms offer diagnostic assistance that can help management identify maintenance problems before they become real problems, thus avoiding stressful and expensive truck breakdowns. Just as well, fuel levels can be monitored and improved through such platforms, saving on fuel costs.

TMS platforms can also make the process of tracking a truck driver’s schedule intuitive and easy through mobile-friendly applications. Drivers can track their hours driven, and management can get a better hold on whether they are overworked, thus improving the driver’s quality of life. Such technology can also be used to track the efficiency of the driver, thus providing opportunities for growth and reward. Human error is a big part of truck driving accidents, many of which are due to speeding and fatigue. This might seem like a way to spy on what drivers are doing, but the intention is for their benefit as well. If a driver is fatigued and distracted, they could put their lives in danger. With the data that TMS platforms can collect, carriers can properly coach their drivers on the importance of breaks and rest.

As Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) become a legal requirement in many different countries, many carriers are struggling to do away with their paperwork and adapt to new technology. ELDs, which is a technology that often integrates with most TMS platforms, benefit drivers significantly. They not only reduce the amount of time spent working on paperwork, but they also provide more insight and accuracy. Without the need for constant paperwork, inspections go faster, hours of service are better tracked, and carriers can control their expenses with more accuracy.

To put it simply, adopting transportation management technology could radically improve the issues that the industry is having with fewer drivers. With TMS platforms, carriers can scale and expand, all while improving driver retention and overall efficiency.

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