March 7, 2022 (RISC-WP-22-002)
- The national truck driver shortage has impacted the Postal Service and suppliers that transport mail in bulk along highway contract routes.
- Several strategies could help the Postal Service to mitigate the impact of the driver shortage.
Since at least the early 2000s, the trucking industry has warned of a shortage of truck drivers. It is estimated there was a shortage of 80,000 drivers in 2021, and it has impacted the Postal Service, which relies on a large surface-transportation network that includes over 9,000 USPS employees driving local Postal Vehicle Service routes and about 1,750 contracted suppliers that primarily drive longer-haul highway contract routes (HCRs).
The driver shortage has contributed to more overtime hours for existing PVS drivers and costs for HCRs, including costs per mile, which increased 18 percent from October 2017 to September 2021. In addition, the shortage creates performance challenges for HCRs.
The OIG identified several strategies to mitigate the impact of the driver shortage on the Postal Service. Potential strategies involve improving recruitment and retention of PVS drivers as well as focusing on the driver experience for both PVS and HCR operations. Other strategies include strengthening relationships with suppliers and increasing truck utilization. Mitigating the impact of the driver shortage is essential to control costs and ensure capacity is available for highway transportation of mail.