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Supply Chain News: Do Felons Represent a Mass Labor Market to Address Truck Driver Shortage?


Some Carriers Open to the Idea for Non-Violent Criminals, but There are Barriers

July 26, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff

As we have reported recently, the dreaded truck drive shortage in the US is certainly still an issue, with regular complaints from large trucking companies and predictions that the shortfall could soon be in the hundreds of thousands, creating havoc for shippers.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Experts say that when evaluating perspective drivers, the nature of the crime and the amount of time that has passed are considerations.

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The nightmare always seems to be right around the corner but never quite gets here - but perhaps it is just a couple of quarters of faster economic growth away from materializing quickly. Still, the rate of truck driver turnover at larger fleets of over $30 million in revenue in Q1 was just 74%, according to the latest data from the American Trucking Associations last week. That was up just a few percentage points from Q4 2016, but down 15 percentage points from Q1 last year.

At smaller truckload fleets, turnover increased two points to 66%, a significant 22 percentage points lower than it was a year ago. The turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers is typically very low and increased two points to just 10% in the first quarter.

But many carriers are still are very worried about the challenges of finding and retaining drivers. Some think they may have found a new, relatively untapped labor market for drivers - felons convicted of non-violent crimes.

There is a large base of such potential candidates, that's for sure. An estimated 600,000 people are released from federal and state prisons annually, according to the National Employment Law Project, though that includes all types of crimes, including violent ones.

But clearly there are hundreds of thousands of convicted criminals in the US that are going to have a tough time finding decent employment - and maybe could be turned into truck drivers, if carriers are willing to overlook the record, in what could be a win-win.

The trucking industry can be appealing to felons and ex-cons because there is a relatively short training time with the potential to earn a good, stable living, according to a recent article on the web site.

Experts say that when evaluating perspective drivers, the nature of the crime and the amount of time that has passed are considerations. The age of the person at the time the crime was committed is often also a factor.

R&R Transportation in Greensboro, NC is an example of one carrier that hires some felons. Company president Karl Robinson says he does not hire anyone convicted of a crime in which children or violence was involved, but crimes like drug possession are viewed less seriously.

One driver with a record told that carriers generally are willing to hire non-violent felons after two years of a clean record and typically start those drivers at a lower pay rate for the first year in a sort of probationary mode.

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There are Obstacles

Although many trucking companies may be willing to give felons a chance, many are limited in hiring by their insurance companies and by the cargo they haul. Some criminal offenses - including sales of a controlled substance, smuggling, robbery and weapons charges - can disqualify drivers from obtaining a hazmat endorsement for up to seven years, for example.

Felons and drivers with certain criminal records are often also barred from working on government contract jobs. A driver who committed a felony 20 years ago, for example, typically can't make deliveries to a nuclear power plant or many ports.

It turns out, however, that points to the trucking industry as a top place for felons to obtain a good-paying job.

Crete Carrier, a privately owned trucking company, will consider candidates with an "acceptable criminal history," according to its website - and smaller carriers appear to be more open to the idea than larger ones.

Still, the web site says that many of the largest US carriers, including Swift, JB Hunt, Celadon and CR England, will hire convicted felons after 10 years arrest free.

SCDigest's View: This seems like a great idea, with the right controls in place, and we would hope more carriers would be open to the idea - and that insurance and other barriers are relaxed enough to enable good candidates to get a second chance.

What do you think of felons as a market for truck drivers? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Your Comments/Feedback


Business development , Company
Posted on: Jul, 26 2017
I think it's a great idea. Depending on the crime I would say less than 10 years would even be optimal. As a matter of fact I have a friend who has a record and delivers for Amazon in the D.C. metro in an uber-like fashion.


Consumer, NA
Posted on: Sep, 03 2017
Great Article! Interesting idea.



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