The International Road Union (IRU) expects driver shortages to increase at alarming rates across the globe.
Surveying more than 1,500 commercial road transport operators in 25 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe, the IRU found that truck driver shortages increased in all regions in 2021 except Eurasia.
In Europe, they jumped by 42 percent from 2020 to 2021, with open unfilled driver positions reaching 71,000 in Romania, 80,000 in both Poland and Germany, and 100,000 in the UK. In Mexico, shortages increased by 30 percent to reach 54,000; in China by 140 percent to reach 1.8 million.
Higher driver wages in 2021, especially in Europe and the USA, have not led to fewer shortages.
IRU secretary general Umberto de Pretto said: “Chronic commercial driver shortages are getting worse, with millions of positions remaining unfilled. This is putting already stressed economies and communities at higher risk of inflation, social mobility issues and supply chain meltdown.”
Looking ahead to 2022, while firms in Argentina and China forecast slight improvements, operators in most regions expect truck driver shortages to keep increasing: Turkey by 15 percent, Mexico by 32 percent, and Eurasia and Europe by 40 percent.
Young drivers under 25 remained a small minority, at 6 or 7 percent of the truck driver population, in most regions. In the USA and Europe, older drivers make up around one third of the workforce. Europe has the highest average driver age, at 47.
According to road transport operators, the current driver shortage crisis is caused by a lack of skilled drivers in all regions, except for China and Turkey, which cited driver conditions and the profession’s image respectively as the main causes.
“Road transport operators are doing their part, but governments and authorities need to maintain focus, especially to improve parking infrastructure, training access, and encouraging more women and young people into the profession,” concluded Umberto de Pretto.