Will COVID-19 Worsen California’s Truck Driver Shortage?

The trucking industry serves as the backbone of the nation’s economy. In 2018, approximately 3.5 million truck drivers were delivering over 70% of all freight tonnage in the United States, generating close to $800 billion in gross revenue annually. While 3.5 million truck drivers represents a significant number of jobs, it is not enough to satisfy demand. The trucking industry suffers from a chronic shortage of drivers. Nearly 70,000 additional heavy-duty tractor-trailer drivers in the United States were needed at the end of 2018, according to the American Trucking Associations. New research from the University of California, Irvine explored the challenges imposed by COVID-19 on truck drivers by conducting a literature review, looking at past crises, and interviewing academic and industry experts. Key findings include: (1) Trucking activity grew in the weeks following the March 13, 2020 declaration of a national emergency. (2) Business closures following the shutdown in many states quickly depressed the demand for trucking services and erased the chronic shortage of drivers.(3) As businesses reopen, the long-term structural problems of the trucking industry still need to be addressed.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • A companion video to this policy brief is available at https:// www.its.uci.edu/node/470.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of California, Irvine

    Institute of Transportation Studies
    4000 Anteater Instruction and Research Building
    Irvine, CA  United States  92697
  • Authors:
    • Regan, Amelia
    • Saphores, Jean-Daniel
  • Publication Date: 2020-9


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Policy Brief
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 3p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01764762
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 11 2021 9:54AM