Nothing gets me riled up more than someone who sits behind a desk all day, telling you why something is going on, and has no experience in the field. Ms. Elizabeth MacDonald was in her chair interviewing someone and was reading off the teleprompter, and I quote, “There’s a growing number of truck drivers quitting because soaring ‘gas’ prices are wiping out their paychecks.”
Mmhmm, she sinned in the first 10 seconds of the sound bite posted by a good friend of Back The Truck Up, The Asian Mai Show’s Alex Mai. Repeat after me, “cars use gasoline, big trucks burn fuel.” Truckers use diesel, propane, compressed natural gas, even some used cooked chicken grease to power their big rigs, but they don’t use “gas.”
Yeah, fuel prices are to the moon right now. With shortage concerns everywhere driving fear at the pump, it’s going to stay up a while. And with President Biden blaming the refineries for doing what they can with what they got, and no permissions to add capacity, “what else can they do, sir?” But that’s just one factor of what’s going on in trucking that’s making drivers hang up the keys.
Have ya’ll thanked Congress for you insurance premiums?
Has anyone priced insurance for a big rig lately? I did, not three months ago, right before I left the road to join FreightWaves. Insurance for my 2019 Freightliner Cascadia was going to cost me right at $413 per month for my policy. Then add the bobtail and accessorial policies, and it would have been around $600 per month.
Now, let’s talk about the “shortage of truck drivers.” Where is the shortage of truck drivers? There sure isn’t a shortage at the truck stops and rest areas. Many drivers have to end their day at between 2 and 3 p.m. to get a decent parking spot. Heaven forbid you get detained and have to look after dark. Remember, it’s against the law to park on exit ramps! Go ask Landstar Systems about their sitting duck policy. It’s there for a reason.
What is driving the myth of a “driver shortage” is the American Trucking Associations, powered by donations from their enterprise carriers, lobbying Congress to drop the minimum age for CDLs from 21 to 18. What they want is a new crop of young, dumb, and inexperienced kids going out on the road with 80,000 pounds of kinetic energy and not enough education or experience to know how to handle it.
Train them fast, get them trapped in the cab of that truck, and keep them rolling ‘til they fall out. Then move in driver #0010011 and start again. There’s a reason that company drivers are worked to death – less experience means less pay. A high supply of drivers in a high turnover rate environment means they can keep lowering the pay rate “as long as the fish keep biting.”
Something is not working as planned with the B-1 Visas
And finally, let me bring up B-1 visas, that little card we give drivers from foreign countries to do short-haul deliveries, commonly called cabotage. What they are supposed to do is take a load from, say Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in this example, and haul it into Laredo, Texas. Right across the border, the same metropolitan area spread.
Oh no, that’s not what’s going on according to @mazzorrateam over on TikTok. He’s tracked Mexican-plated trucks as far inland as Michigan. There are also commenters adding Georgia, Louisiana and Chicago as places trucks have been seen with Mexican tags.
That means illegal operators are taking loads inland, and those drivers are being paid much less than American drivers. Why? To the impoverished, $0.50 per mile in U.S. dinero is Boo-Koo Bucks. A barely there paycheck is a king’s ransom in Venezuela.
So yeah, if anyone dares say they know why truck drivers are quitting, my immediate and passionate response will be, “CDL, please!” Get some seat time and understand the situation better before you preach to the choir.