Infrastructure issues hinder already weakened trucking industry

The U.S. trucking industry is already teetering on the edge of crisis mode – if it hasn't entered it already – and infrastructure issues only exacerbate the problem.

The American trucking industry is facing a substantial labor shortage. During the recession there wasn't much cargo crisscrossing the network of roads in the U.S., so there wasn't a need for drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. However, as trade got going again, hiring among trucking operators did not follow suit. By 2014, the driver shortage had surged to 38,000. But even if the industry does solve its labor issues soon, what will the new truckers end up driving on?

Infrastructure is such a significant problem in the U.S. that President Barack Obama even told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin one of his regrets, regarding his economic legacy, was not doing more to fix it. The issue directly affects truckers who have to drive over crumbling roads and bridges every day.

Traffic congestion impeding truckers
In fact, traffic congestion costs the trucking industry nearly $50 billion and took 728 million hours in delivery time from truckers in 2014, an American Transportation Research Institute study found. Infrastructure problems are at the heart of this loss of revenue and time.

"The U.S. continues to lag in infrastructure improvements, and instead of being able to invest back into their businesses, shippers and carriers end up with unnecessary extra costs to simply move goods within the country," Cathy Morrow Roberson, chief analyst at Logistics Trends & Insights, told Forbes. "There are so many projects that need to be addressed ports, dams, inland waterways, roads and never enough money to go around."

2016 election could prove pivotal for infrastructure
Truckers and the roads they drive on are two of the more pressing issues the industry faces in a pivotal year due to the ongoing election in the U.S. The frontrunners, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, running for the Democratic and Republican nominations, respectively, have both stated that they intend to invest in infrastructure should they be elected president, according to The Hill. Clinton released a five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan while Trump was quoted as saying the "$4 trillion" spent on the War in Iraq would have been better used on roads and bridges.

Should either candidate become president and follow through with infrastructure proposals on the campaign trail, there would be at least one less issue for truckers to worry about.