2021 has not been an easy year for the transport industry. It has been particularly marked by an increase in energy prices. This significant variation has affected the prices of freight transport services. At the same time, the quality of these services has actually declined due to lack of capacity and shortage of manpower. In a nutshell, there have been a lot of operational problems. So, what does this year have to offer? Will the difficulties encountered by the major shippers fade away? This article discusses the outlook regarding European road transport.
Driver shortages are not going to improve any time soon
Long before the advent of the pandemic, the road transport industry was short of manpower. It was estimated that this shortage would reach about 25,000 by 2023! However, with each successive lockdown, a lot of people began to shop online. Last mile delivery has really skyrocketed and with it, the gap between available truckers and demand.
This situation has not yet subsided. It may even continue to get worse this year. Fortunately, major carriers are already adopting solutions to address this problem. For instance, they are training many more drivers through educational sessions at community colleges and through private training organizations.
On the other hand, retention efforts have been much improved. Workers are entitled to higher wages, benefits, and better working conditions. They also benefit from safety bonus programs designed to encourage safer driving. Such changes have a real potential to encourage more people to join the industry and to help fleet operators grow.
Last-mile delivery to hit record highs in 2022
Online sales are at their peak. By May 2020, they had reached a record $3.9 billion; this trend has continued into 2021. To better adapt, companies hired a lot of last-mile delivery drivers. This has allowed them to offer faster delivery to their customers and build loyalty.
Granted, the income of a last-mile delivery driver is lower than that of a long-distance worker. However, many people choose to work this way in order to have a more balanced lifestyle. This year, last-mile delivery will see very bright days.
It is worth noting that last-mile delivery operations create real challenges for companies. In fact, most of them are new to the trucking business and must still take the time to adapt to new technologies, especially in terms of telematics. This is the price they will have to pay if they want to capitalize on the growth that online commerce has experienced in recent years.
All in all, we must remember that 2022 will be a very strategic and decisive year for the road transport industry. The driver shortage will not go away. But on the other hand, last-mile delivery will take the lead. The road transport industry should take these trends into account and use them to their advantage.