While much has been said about the truck driver shortage, the industry doesn't lack for participation or size. In addition to employing nearly 2 million people (according to the Department of Labor), three of the 50 most common jobs in America are all related to trucking (i.e. industrial truck and tractor operators, light truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer drivers), as a report from Stacker found after reviewing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nevertheless, the American Trucking Associations says that if hiring doesn't pick up the pace, motor carriers and the industry as a whole could be at least 160,000 drivers shy of the number necessary to meet demand as soon as 2028.

But as Freight Waves recently reported, it isn't young people or those who are middle-aged who are seeking their commercial drivers licenses of late; it's seniors — or those who are on the cusp of senior citizen status. They may hold the key to resolving some of the supply chain issues affecting the nation's ports. 

'It was just time for me to do something else'
One of those people who may have a role to play is Ed Falls, a retired school band director. Speaking to Freight Waves, the 57-year-old noted that with his teaching days behind him, he was ready to pursue a different line of work, and the trucking lifestyle just so happened to be in line with his likes and interests.

"It was just time for me to do something else and I always like driving," Falls explained. "I like over-the-road stuff. I like the freedom."

Freedom — or more precisely, more free time — is part of what has inspired more seniors to pursue trucking as a post-retirement career. Being freed from traditional job responsibilities — as well as family responsibilities since their kids have left home — has made the transition to trucking fairly seamless.

John Albert, who has been driving a truck professionally for 14 years now after obtaining his CDL at 55, noted that he likely couldn't have gotten into trucking were it not for the fact that he had more free time in his mid-50s.

"If I was younger and I still had children at home, I would not do it," Albert told Freight Waves.

Seniors are increasingly taking up truck driving as a post-retirement career path.Seniors are increasingly taking up truck driving as a post-retirement career path.

Retirements a major contributor to driver shortage
That more seniors are becoming truck drivers is, in some ways, out of step with current employment trends in the trucking industry. In fact, as the American Trucking Associations has detailed, a big reason why the shortage of drivers is as large as it is is due to so many truckers exiting the workforce. Between 2021 and 2030, an estimated 400,000 drivers will be retiring, according to the trade association's estimates.

But now, it seems, many of the people who are replacing the more seasoned truck drivers are their senior contemporaries, just those who are brand new to the job.

That said, industry experts stress that more young people are needed in order for the sector to grow and develop. Since seniors are already in the latter half of their working years, they don't have as much time to extend their careers as those who are in their twenties and thirties. Currently, the median age for over-the-road drivers is 46 and for private fleet drivers, it's 57, based on a 2019 report from the American Trucking Associations. To grow the business, that median age will need to go down.

In the meantime, the supply chain stands to benefit from unclogging the existing bottlenecks. 

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