No matter how you slice it …

“Driver shortage may jump to 111,000 by 2014″, the headline read. The item went on to report, “The long-haul heavy-duty transportation industry in the United States is experiencing a shortage of 20,000 truck drivers, the American Trucking Associations reported today in its newly released; ‘US Truck Driver Shortage: Analysis and Forecasts.’”

The above was a news item issued by “eyefortransport”… on May 26, 2005. That’s right … May 26, 2005. Almost two years ago. Taking into account total expansion and replacement hiring needs, the report stated, an average of 54,000 new drivers per year will be required over the next decade.

“The driver market is the tightest it has been in twenty years,” ATA president and CEO, Bill Graves said back then. Earlier this year, however, Mr. Graves provided us with an update when he stated that because demand for truck services is steadily increasing there will be a need for 1 million additional trucks on our highways within the next 10 years.

Sounds critical, wouldn’t you agree? Well, the authorities, the ones who should be concerned, don’t give a hoot. Here’s what we just read this past week. Make some sense out of it, if you can.

• “Industry seeks trucking overhaul” (Long Beach Press Telegram – 03/26/2007) — A coalition of retailers, marine operators, ocean shippers and freight haulers Monday released an industry ‘white paper’ supporting an environmental overhaul of diesel trucks in California. Among other suggestions, the document seeks to establish gate fees on drayage trucks that fail to meet proposed state diesel emission standards … In addition, the paper advocates using state bonds strictly for infrastructure projects and not truck replacement programs … ‘We are proposing that absolutely no taxpayer money be used to replace old trucks as some have advocated,’ said Erik Autor, vice president of the National Retail Federation … The paper, developed with input from Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Union Pacific and numerous international shippers, denounces state-mandated container fees, like one proposed by California State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, as unconstitutional. Instead, the paper focuses on using various fees and tolls on truckers to pay for equipment replacement and infrastructure upgrades. Lowenthal took issue with the report’s suggestions, saying they place an unfair burden on port truckers. ‘This proposes that the poorest people in the system are going to pay, while the people who own the goods don’t pay,’ Lowenthal said. ‘What’s wrong with this equation?’”

Everything is wrong with that equation, Senator. It reeks of greed and stupidity. What happened to the industry’s magnanimity that gave us the AAPA’s S.H.A.R.E. initiative? Remember the words? They purported to promote “… both the principle and the process of banding together and pooling resources for greater muscle, which will serve to the greatest benefit for each of us individually and the entire industry collectively”.

What baloney!