Agricultural Truck Drivers Detail Industry Challenges in New Report

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Industry

A new report highlights some of the issues that agricultural truck drivers are facing and presents possible solutions. The report, “Ensuring the Supply of Agricultural Truck Drivers: What the State of California Can Do,” was recently released by the UC Berkeley Labor Center. This comprehensive study, the first of its kind in almost three decades, sheds light on the labor market for agricultural truck drivers in California.

Agricultural Truck Drivers

Some of the challenges that were identified by truck drivers who participated in the study include speed limits and lack of parking and rest areas. Policy recommendations offered in the report include a reassessment of California speed limits. Many truck drivers explained that different speed limits for trucks and passenger vehicles create additional safety risks. Recommendations also include development of new public facilities or expanding existing rest areas and parking facilities.   

Waiting times were also cited by agricultural truck drivers as being particularly challenging. The report suggests that the state ensure all applicable laws regarding compensation for waiting are understood by drivers and ensure employer compliance. Shippers can help the issue by using appointment times and apps that enable truck drivers to schedule appointments. Better assessment of the timing of loads from off site would also benefit drivers.

To ensure an ample supply of agricultural truck drivers moving forward, the report encourages more recruitment and training efforts. Steve Viscelli, the report’s co-author and an economic sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, suggested reversing the current training system, advocating for local training and employment at the start of drivers’ careers and reserving difficult long-haul work for experienced drivers. Viscelli also highlighted the importance of better tracking of training funds and fostering partnerships between successful trainers and employers to maximize their impact and benefit workers.

“Safe and experienced truck drivers are the foundation of U.S. supply chains,” said Viscelli. “I hope this research helps to bring their perspective more fully into the conversation about how to better retain experienced drivers and create successful career paths for the next generation.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West