US driver reform program includes paid waiting times

Paid waiting times included in Trucking Action Plan to attract drivers and avoid supply chain crisis

US driver reform program includes paid waiting times
Pete Buttigieg


While Australia has recently gone ahead with truck-driving apprenticeships to help bring much-needed youth into the ranks, the US has embarked on a comprehensive plan to tackle its chronic shortage.

The US peak trucking industry body, the American Trucking Associations, has raised the alarm over the past few years and presently estimates the US needs 80,000 more drivers to avoid sector reaching a breaking point.

"In some parts of the trucking industry, 90% of drivers turn over each year," US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg says.

"Making sure truck drivers are paid and treated fairly is the right thing to do, and it will help with both recruiting new drivers and keeping experienced drivers on the job." 

The US’s Department of Transport (DOT) and Department of Labor (DOL) launched the Trucking Action Plan (TAP) a month ago and have now revealed the next steps in line with a 30-day commitment pledge.

Though some of the issues are US-specific, others including pay for waiting times effort at facilities and, indeed, their own apprenticeship, have echoes on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

"We need to look at these compensation issues if we really want to solve long-term challenges in trucking in the US," Buttigieg told CBS News.

Read about the Australian truck-driver apprenceships and other moves, here

According to the departments, the initiatives aim to "support drivers and improve driver retention while expanding access to quality driving jobs now and in the years ahead".

The initiatives include: 

  • Expanding Registered Apprenticeship programs – more than 100 employers and industry partners have stepped forward to work to expand Registered Apprenticeships in the last 30 days
  • Creating the Women of Trucking Advisory Board mandated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
  • Creating a new task force, mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements with DOL and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 
  • Beginning two studies to explore the issues of truck driver pay and unpaid detention time (known  as ‘waiting time’ in Australia)
  • Launching the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot –an under-21 pilot program for truck drivers mandated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 
  • Offering more than $32 million in funding to states to improve CDL licensing process. 

"In the 30 days since the Administration’s Driving Good Jobs Initiative was launched, there is new energy and enthusiasm behind the effort to ensure jobs in the trucking industry are good, safe and sustainable jobs attractive to new generation of truck drivers who will remain in the industry over the long term," secretary of labor Marty Walsh says. 

"Industry has to and is stepping up to partner and in the last month, we are already working with more than 100 employers to expand Registered Apprenticeships for drivers, an important step to making this shift a reality." 

TAP details can be found here.

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