Last reviewed 21 July 2022

After surveying more than 1500 commercial road transport operators in 25 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) has reported that truck driver shortages increased in all regions in 2021 except Eurasia.

In Europe, they went up by 42% from 2020 to 2021, with open unfilled driver positions reaching 71,000 in Romania, 80,000 in both Poland and Germany, and 100,000 in the UK. In Mexico, shortages increased by 30% to reach 54,000 and in China the increase was by 140% to reach 1.8 million.

The IRU found that higher driver wages in 2021, especially in Europe and the United States, have not led to fewer shortages.

In passenger transport, 7% of bus and coach driver positions were unfilled in 2021 in Europe. Operators expect this to reach 8% in 2022 in the countries surveyed.

Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto, said: “Chronic commercial driver shortages are getting worse, with millions of positions remaining unfilled. This is putting already stressed economies and communities at higher risk of inflation, social mobility issues and supply chain meltdown.”

The IRU also found that fewer than 3% of truck drivers were women in 2021 in all regions, with notable exceptions in China at 5% and the US at 8%.

While the rate of women bus and coach drivers in Europe was better at 12%, these rates are all still well below transport sector norms, especially in Europe and the US where 22% and 28% of all transport workers respectively are women.

Young drivers (under 25) remained a minority, at 6% or 7% of the truck driver population, in most regions. On the other hand, there are between two and five times more older drivers (over 55) in all regions, except for China and Mexico.

In the US and Europe, older drivers make up around one third of the workforce. Europe has the highest average driver age, at 47.

The widening age gap is more serious for passenger transport. In Europe, only 3% of bus and coach drivers were under 25 in 2021, half the rate of the overall transport sector. Drivers over 55 however were 32% of the workforce, with an average driver age of 50.