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White House commits to making changes to the trucking industry

Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 20, 2021

The White House is trying to fix supply chain issues by targeting the trucking industry.

Last week, the Biden Administration took action to expand access to quality driving jobs and fast-track apprenticeship programs for drivers. The White House also made policy changes to address pandemic-related delays on commercial licenses.

Biden also hopes to fill a driver shortage by recruiting veterans and military reserve members. The administration also hopes to recruit military spouses into becoming drivers to bring more women into the industry.

Finally, the administration announced it is investigating predatory training and leasing agreements that dissuade new drivers from entering the industry.

"As a country, we've undervalued our truck drivers' contribution to our supply chains, and even more specifically, their time," said David Cornell with the MIT Center for Transporation and Logistics. "At first blush, this looks to me like an effort to correct that and to take their time more seriously, which I think is a step in the right direction."

The White House also said last week that it plans to investigate the amount of unpaid time truckers spent waiting to load and unload. Experts believe long waits have left drivers under-utilized.

Cornell's research found that drivers are logging on average only six-and-a-half hours of drive time each day, even though they can legally drive for 11 hours a day.

While studying the time truckers spend waiting to load and unload, Cornell found that drivers wait much longer hours on weekends and overnight.

"There were supposed to wait half an hour, and they had to wait an hour," Cornell said. "It's much more like it was accepted that they would wait two hours and they waited eight to 18 hours, so it can be a real detrimental to take home pay every week."

In a past appearance before a Congressional hearing, Cornell testified that those wait times are a significant drain on paychecks for many truckers.

"Even more special to me was truck drivers and people in the industry found my email address online and said thank you," Cornell said. "That's what we're experiencing. This underutilization is just not talked about as much as it should."