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How a Nationwide Driver Shortage is Affecting Car Shipping Prices

How a driver shortage is affecting car shipping prices

There’s a nationwide driver shortage right now, with industry officials estimating some 60,000 positions have yet to be filled. While major chains such as Walmart and Amazon have so far weathered the issue, car shipping prices are going up as a result.

Car transportation is a pretty big industry, despite most people not realizing it. And it suffers from the same basic pitfalls as any other freight hauling industry. Just like companies that move food or household items or consumer goods, car haulers have to abide by numerous rules and regulations while still trying to turn a profit.

But while there are many factors that influence car shipping prices, this driver shortage could be one of the biggest.

The basics of car shipping prices

Prices to ship any kind of vehicle are influenced very much by supply and demand. If demand goes up, prices go up.

As we get into the spring shipping season, demand for transportation is increasing. Already, prices have increased on numerous routes, particularly up and down the east coast and on coast-to-coast routes. And this doesn’t even factor in the driver shortage – it’s pretty much an industry given that as demand goes up, prices go up. Carriers can choose to haul the highest-paying loads before any others.

Logjams like this aren’t all that uncommon between popular car transport hubs. Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami are three of the largest car shipping locations in the country. As demand increases, prices increase, particularly around those areas. But there are many more as well. This is why comparing prices is important – low quotes during the spring and summer often leave vehicles stranded at pickup because the price isn’t high enough.

Trucks are typically paid per mile, and they keep costs low by being able to haul up to ten cars at a time. But if there’s 200 cars on a route, and the highest-paying loads are going for $800 each, a shipment that posts for $650 isn’t going to move. Carriers don’t want to take less if they don’t have to.

Enter the driver shortage

When the busy season begins, prices go up. That’s the case regardless of how many drivers there are. There will always be more vehicles on the nationwide load board than carriers can ship, as there are only a few thousand trucks on the road at any given time. So even without a driver shortage, increases are commonplace.

But once you factor in the driver shortage, things get more complicated. Fewer trucks on the road means even higher prices. It’s basic supply and demand, after all.

And it’s not like the auto transport industry is the only one affected by the driver shortage. Fewer trucks for companies like Walmart and Amazon, as mentioned, is going to impact consumer prices as well. It’s felt in every industry.

If there’s not enough people moving goods, the goods get harder to move. And more expensive.

It’s that simple.

What’s fueling the driver shortage – and how companies are responding

There are several factors that are fueling the current driver shortage in the United States. Truckers today make less, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in the 1980’s. So lower pay is something that’s keeping people from going into trucking. Couple this with an increase in freight demand and high turnover rates, particularly with so many boomers retiring from the industry, and you have a recipe for a potential problem.

But there are ways that carrier companies are countering these issues, starting with higher pay, more incentives, and making the job easier.

Higher pay is a natural reaction to a driver shortage, and salaries are cresting $80,000/year for major fleets. But it’s more than just high pay. Incentives such as health care, paid time off, a 401(k) package, and more are tactics that companies are using to sweeten the deal to attract new drivers.

Some companies are offering loyalty bonuses for their drivers to stay with them as well. Others may offer free college tuition for their drivers, taking a page out of the armed forces recruiting handbook.

Something else that people don’t think about is trucker safety. Most long-haul drivers live and work in their trucks, but there’s not many places they can park for the night to sleep, or to get a bite to eat, save for truck stops. These can be notoriously dangerous, especially for women drivers, which is a demographic that the industry is trying to recruit in higher numbers as well. You can learn more about the day-to-day worries of truckers right here.

So it’s not just pay. Incentives, and the way that shipping companies treat their drivers, play a major role in the lack of new drivers.

What you can do to mitigate these problems with your car transport services

If you’re looking to ship a vehicle, it’s important that you peruse quotes. Look at all your options and find a shipper whose quote is not too low. Truck space, now more than ever, is at a premium. So you don’t want to be booking with the lowest priced company.

Really, you should prepare to pay top dollar, especially if you’re shipping along major routes during the spring or summer. We highly recommend speaking to agents on the phone to ask questions and to understand more about the industry as a whole.

But other than comparing prices and services, there’s not much you can do unless you want to actually drive a truck for a living.

If you’re interested in shipping a car, make sure to give us a call for a free quote. Our representatives understand the industry and how it works and will work hard to ensure your vehicle is priced to move when you need it to move. We are a five-star rated auto transporter and we only work with reputable, reliable carriers. So try out American Auto Shipping and see what we can do for you.

Dave Armstrong
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