• Map: IRU

15.05.2024 By: Claudia Benetti

Artikel Nummer: 49262

3 million drivers short

Accessibility, image, youngsters – in its latest study the International Road Transport Union has gone to the heart of the matter of why truck transport is stuck in a rut. The problem of empty cabs is likely to worsen drastically by 2028 if no change is implemented.

The shortage of lorry drivers is one of the biggest problems facing the transport industry today. A study released by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) recently revealed that, if nothing changes by 2028, there’ll then be more than 7 million drivers lacking in 36 European and Asian countries and in the USA.

The problem has been getting worse from year to year for some time now. Around 3 million positions are unfilled worldwide today, or 7% of all positions for drivers.

The shortage is greatest in Turkey, where 16% of jobs are vacant, and in Uzbekistan (15%). Russia and China follow in third and fourth place, with the share of vacancies coming to 14% and 12% respectively.

According to the IRU’s report the situation eased ever so slightly in Europe and in the USA last year – but ‘only’ as a result of a cyclical economic decline in demand for road transport. In Europe, 5 – 10% of all positions for drivers are currently unfilled. The shortage of truckers in the United States of America has resulted in 64,000 empty positions. As reasons for the shortage of drivers the study cites the difficult working conditions, the long periods that drivers spend away from home and the poor image of the driving profession.

Too few youngsters and women

The low level of appreciation for the profession is another reason why hardly any youngsters want to enter the profession. Worldwide, just under 12% of lorry drivers are currently under 25 years of age; in Europe the figure is as low as 5%. Only China (17%) and Uzbekistan (25%) have a higher overall proportion of drivers under the age of 25 than Europe.

At only 6%, the proportion of women among professional drivers worldwide is also very low. It is highest in the USA, but also comes to a mere 8% there. The report goes on to cite further reasons for the shortage of drivers, including the high minimum age to drive a truck in international freight transport – often between 21 and 26 years –, the high costs of training, driving licences and insurance, and difficult access to the profession for foreign drivers, especially in Europe and the USA.

Some or all of these hurdles urgently need to be removed in order to make any headway in countering the shortage of drivers. At the same time, the IRU has called for measures to be introduced to make the profession of lorry driver more attractive again.

You can download the full report here.


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