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.
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MONEY, HOME TIME, INCREASED MEDICAL AND DENTAL BENEFITS. Trucking companies are notorious for having crappy health care because most are sefl insured and refuse to pay out claims, although the equipment has gotten 100 times better there still trucks and will never Ride Like a Cadillac no matter what some may say. Long hrs, higher than ever volumes of traffic thanks to gps systems, massive road construction nationwide adding to the stress levels means less miles a day, and less miles means less pay. Long hrs sitting getting loaded or unloaded means less pay because most carriers won’t pay demurge. All these are factor’s that won’t be addressed.
Erich Whaples says
New drivers leave because the industry and the FMCSA, CVSA, DOT all treat them like crap plain and simple.
Steve Rickman says
I paid for CDL school, got my CDL, Hazmat, Tankers, Wick card. I was not willing to live with another person for a month and be used by a company to drive while the “Trainor” sleeps. The training turns people off. There should be simulators that are used to train.
I’ll second that. Been driving for just over 10 months… the misogyny, is unbelievable – especially, when predators (your issued DM/FM, Safety, Logs, etc.) get to hide behind their computers and single out your all-too-easy trackable behaviors: manipulate your time-clock, give your good-paying load away to someone else, extend your load to a forwarding service (and not pay you for it), claim a load is ready when it is not – or claim that a scheduled pick-up cannot be any earlier (after you have fact-checked just that), and generally waste your time with their chaired selves and unimportant ego. I hate this industry for what it has become. If you really would like to retain drivers, don’t harass them – and, have some accountability when “users” abuse the system to reward their besties and mistreat the newbies for s*s and giggles: especially women. Get rid of all in-cab cameras and recording devices (they should be optional at least).
And, if the industry is really strapped for drivers… abolish the FMCSA for it’s egregious overreach and quite-frankly stupid and self-serving rules… every driver into their 90’s will take-up trucking again. It’s that simple.
The industry is set up around “safety”, which I find hysterical; because the people responsible for compliance are more likely to not only, not have a current CDL if ever issued one, but have DUIs and be on the registered sex-offenders list. Good f* job – retaining the cream-of-the-crop.
Same statistics of most new drivers leave within 90 days of getting their CDL when I started driving in 1988. $47,000 a year is a joke for a OTR driver. If that’s all you’re making find a better company.
I moved 3 companies before I found the one I am comfortable with. My opinion, the small companies are much better than the big ones. BTW, I am a solo OTR female, with a great home support from my family. I think that’s important to anyone’s success in anything; family support.
Jack Decker says
1) Until Suggestion #3 is done, provide guaranteed weekly pay with only eight hours required of driving a day to earn it. A 25% bonus if you drive a sixth 8-hour day and another 25% bonus on what you’d earn after getting the first 25% if you drive for a seventh 8-hour day. If you fall short one day, you can make it up the next day. Your truck’s ELD alerting you when you hit your eight-hour mark so there is no question whether or not you made it as well as help you make up time if you fell short the day before. It then doesn’t matter if you’re paid by cpm or hourly. This would eliminate fatigued/sleepy drivers and the accidents that happen because of it. It would also eliminate drivers working for nothing when stuck at a loading dock, in a repair garage, or shut down due to weather. New drivers should then be told to ignore if they are also offered cpm pay and all the “you can earn up to” fantasy non-sense but to just do the minimum requirement to get the guarantee and ONLY consider what you’re paid for that guaranteed weekly minimum as far as pay goes for any job offer.
2) Super-sleepers for all OTR drivers. Currently we piss in a bottle, make a dash for Number 2, and live in what is small walk-in closet. Adding just another four feet to a standard sleeper could enable you to put in a toilet/shower (with fold-down sink) on one side and, on the other side, a mini-refrigerator on top and a mini-freezer on bottom plus next to them a microwave oven up top, a hot plate and counter in the middle, and a frozen-pizza-size conventional oven on bottom. Take out the bottom bunk bed and put in a table and comfortable chair plus a flat-screen TV on the wall with a spot where you can put in at least one, if not two console game systems. Equip the truck with satellite TV and WiFi Internet and offer both free to the driver plus subscriptions to services like NetFlix. Have the top bunk bed be hydraulically raised to the ceiling so it can be lowered for sleeping and have a decent ladder for the trucker to use to get up into it. The bed required to be raised to the ceiling and locked into place before the truck will allow itself to be moved.
3) Let the truck self-drive when it is on a true limited-access interstate superhighway and for docking. Driver either taking over driving when off the superhighway or going through construction zones or at least sitting in the driver’s seat to oversee the truck doing the driving then. If this were allowed, trucks should be allowed to then drive non-stop while on superhighways because the drivers can go back into the super-sleeper to relax and sleep as they wish. This would finally eliminate driving teams! But #2 would be absolutely required for this as the drivers will need a place to go to the bathroom and more space and conveniences to maintain their sanity for such non-stop travel. Letting the truck also dock would eliminate all docking accidents or at the very least blaming the driver for such. And #1’s guaranteed weekly pay would should still be done as self-driving trucks can still break down, get caught in a bad weather condition, and get stuck at a dock … though naturally the 8-hour driving rule wouldn’t be done.
4) Taking into consideration all three points above, have all OTR drivers only have 2.5-day routes from their home. This way for those who want to be home every weekend, they can be. Their trucks parked at the nearest truckstop or dropyard to them with maximum distance away from home being an hour. Drivers paid a bonus if they can park their trucks at their home or can find a parking spot within ten minutes of their home. Using #3, it would only take two OTR truckers to do a complete coast-to-coast and back run. You’d then just have to have OTR truckers either live on one of the coasts or in the middle of the country as two would only need to swap trailers to do such a coast-to-coast and back route. For those truckers who want to live in their trucks, that’s fine and they should be paid a bonus since no trailer swap would then be needed.
PROPOSAL: If I could get the venture capital, I would start a trucking company that does the above. Honest. If Trucker Report would like to talk to me about the above, email me. And, yes, I am serious.
Big Trouble says
It’s funny that the people that have the most to gain have the largest voice ! If the industry was truly trying to fix this and there not ! In fact they’re throwing gas on the fire have for years! They would be making a serious effort into properly train entry level and retain supposed experience drivers and quit trying to modify the machine so any one can drive it ! The government would require all vehicles on the federal highway systems to be able to do the posted speed limit! The recruiters they hire should work in operations for 3 months before they can actively recruit drivers! The driver managers (dispatchers) should no longer be encouraged to lie to there drivers if you need the load covered say that ! Not this is all I have! Plus generally people are more likely to leave because they been lied to than being asked to cover loads because your general population of drivers aren’t very good at this but you need them to sit in the seat because there all you have! It is has been this way since I have been apart of this ,the industry and with help from the government have tripped over them selves to cure the effect and done little or nothing to find solutions for causation! An example would be my favorite speed caused it/ no equipment or more likely driver error ( really really bad driving habits). Was the cause ,speed increased the effect! I know I’ve wasted my time but if it helps one I’m good
There is a lot to this it’s an accumulation of little things that have personally been ignored and or worse encouraged for years! If you’re not here yet there are a lot of other good paying jobs available! While they figure it out. Good luck and god’s speed
1. Maintain the equipment better.
2. Stop making us wait 4+ hours to get loaded/unloaded.
3. Let us invest in our own stocks/ cryptocurrencies in the 401k’ s. It’s our money. Stop acting acting like it’s yours.