Despite steady work and rising salaries, upwards of 35 percent of newly-minted CDL holders reportedly resign within the first 90 days. Some shrug this phenomenon off as “early leaving” caused by misconceptions about the job. But losing qualified truckers due to industry conditions continues a counterproductive trend in which everyone loses. If the country is going to close the driver gap, trucking industry leaders need to take measures such as the following to retain truck drivers.
1: Increase Time At Home Opportunities
If there’s an “X” factor that recent CDL holders do not necessarily comprehend, it’s being on the road for extended periods. Life on the open road appears exciting. Future drivers anticipate seeing the country and reveling in its inherent beauty. While the great American landscape truly is awe-inspiring, those moments are fleeting. For every glimpse of the Smoky Mountains or Great Plains, there are dozens of isolated nights in a truck cabin. Couple that with rain, cold, and generally inclement weather and upstart drivers begin to understand that OTR professionals require a determined mental toughness.
Freight hauling outfits would be well-served to ease rookie drivers into long-haul situations. By limiting the number of days away from their family, friends, and familiar haunts, new hires can acclimate to weeks away from home. This concept may run contrary to old-school approaches. However, it can help reduce unnecessary early leaving.
2: Create Truck Driver Incentives
Although veteran truckers enjoy opportunities to earn exceedingly high salaries, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics pegs the 2020 national average at $47,130 annually and $22.66 per hour. Those figures may seem beneficial when you consider truck drivers do not incur massive student loan debt. And, CDL holders almost never have to file for unemployment.
But the downside is that annual salaries typically do not compensate drivers for all of their time. For every hour a trucker spends at a rest area or pulled over due to hours of service limitations, that time often goes unpaid. A professional driver is essentially sequestered, and employers need to create incentives that make the lifestyle worthwhile. These may include bonuses, and additional vacation time for long hauls, among others.
3: Outfit Rigs With Advanced Technology
Freight haulers are asking Millennials to replace the fast-retiring Baby Boomers. To say there are cultural differences between these demographics would be something of an understatement. Younger drivers grew up with technology that gives them real-time access to information and entertainment. Installing the latest GPS, Bluetooth technology, and Wi-Fi signal boosters can bridge the gap. Millennials may feel less isolated with familiar technologies that allow them to video-chat and fill up downtime while away from home.