How The Driver Shortage Can Impact The Industry’s Most Vulnerable Cargo

There has been a silent and consequential shortage of drivers in highway transport. This is a particularly critical challenge for business-critical and pharmaceutical freight, as successful deliveries require experienced drivers who are not only familiar high-tech vehicles and monitoring equipment but are also seasoned and vigilant shepherds of their cargo. The problem doubles when a shipment is best safeguarded by driver teams.

This impacts the industry’s ability to add trucks while shipping capacity is constrained – and it makes it more essential than ever for shippers to thoroughly vet their transportation service providers. There are three critical and related components that need to be considered: the drivers, their experience with the high-tech vehicles they’re operating and their successful completion of training for risk mitigation and management protocols.

Forward-thinking transporters of mission-critical cargo have already upped their game for driver training, background checks, hiring practices, medical screening, and the like. 


Shippers should expect access to the following from their providers.

  • Up-to-date test scores for compliance with Risk mitigation and quality management standards
  • Driver training on an auditable Risk Mitigation and Quality Management System (QMS)
  • Individual track records for successful shipments made by carriers and their drivers
  • Five-year background checks and regular randomized drug screenings drivers and key employees
  • Access to drivers’ and carriers’ three-year safety performance record as well as a five-year log of certificates of violations
  • A minimum 12-month average length of employee tenure to weed out carriers who might inadvertently be hiring criminal spies
  • Acceptable ratings with the following safety organizations:
    • FMCSA must be “satisfactory” for ultra-high-value shipments (and “conditional” at a minimum) for both the driver and the carrier
    • Carrier 411 audit for highly sensitive cargo that could require a deeper dive into carrier track records


In addition, there should be a documented history of driver adherence to the following:

  • Compliance with pre-checks for battery life to confirm that environmental conditions can be maintained for the entire journey
  • Pre-conditioning standards for the advanced setting of environmental controls to ensure that the conditions inside the trailer meet specifications when the cargo is loaded by factoring in external variables in such as the extreme heat or cold of certain geographic locations
  • Documentation of broken seals, temperature spikes, cargo damage and the like


Download our white paper to learn about the five things you should expect from carriers transporting ultra-high-value and highly targeted cargo, including pharmaceuticals, cold chain, high-value electronics, financial assets and more.