October 16 - According to a new analysis by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the shortage of truck drivers has grown to over 48,000 and could expand further due to industry growth and a retiring workforce.

"The ability to find enough qualified drivers is one of our industry's biggest challenges," said ATA president and ceo Bill Graves. "This latest report plainly lays out the problem - as well as some possible solutions - to the driver shortage."

The report shows that by the end of 2015, the driver shortage will reach nearly 48,000. If current trends hold, it suggests that the shortage may balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024.

"An important thing we learned in this analysis is that this isn't strictly a numbers problem, it is a quality problem too," outlined ATA chief economist Bob Costello. "Fleets consistently report receiving applications for open positions, but that many of those candidates do not meet the criteria to be hired. According our research, 88 percent of carriers said most applicants are not qualified."

The report also found that over the next ten years, the trucking industry will need to hire 890,000 new drivers, or an average of 89,000 per year.

According to the report, 45 percent of demand for drivers comes from the need to replace retiring drivers; while industry growth is the second leading driver of new hiring at 33 percent of demand.

"Our work shows the great and growing need for drivers, but we also highlight several solutions including increasing driver pay, getting drivers more time at home, as well as improving the image of the driver and their treatment by all companies in the supply chain. Make no mistake, the driver shortage is a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one," added Costello.

You can see a copy of the ATA's Driver Shortage Analysis