What Are Your Drivers’ Biggest Concerns With the Trucking Industry?

Understanding and addressing your drivers' concerns is the key to successful recruitment and retention. ATRI's (American Transportation and Research Institute) 2022 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry report highlights the vast differences between drivers and carrier leadership on the industry's issues.  

When the survey results were broken out between Commercial Drivers and Motor Carriers, the differences in the priority of issues can be seen. For example, both drivers and carriers stated that truck parking was an issue that needs to be addressed; for drivers, this issue ranked #1, while for carriers, it ranked #10. Within the top ten for both segments, only four issues crossed over as a top priority for both groups.   

To better understand the issues that company drivers face today, we will look at the ATRI’s critical issues top ten list from drivers in the industry, point by point.  

Truck Parking

Overall, truck parking was the #1 issue for all commercial drivers. According to the 2019 Federal Highway Administration’s Jason's Law survey, there are just 313,000 truck parking spaces available nationally. This does not allow for even one space per driver. The lack of safe and available parking puts our drivers at risk, creating negative health and productivity outcomes, which in turn impacts retention. Regarding recruitment, this issue is widely known and is one of several factors that limit interest in trucking as a career, especially among women.   

Fuel Prices

Fuel costs came in as the #2 issue overall for commercial drivers; when broken out, this issue came in at #1 for owner-operators/independent contractors but was not a top ten issue for company drivers. While high fuel prices negatively affect the industry and its ripple effects impact company drivers, this issue does not appear to be of greatest concern to company drivers at this time.

Driver Compensation

Driver compensation ranked #3 for all commercial drivers. Even when broken out between company drivers (#1) and owner-operators/independent contractors (#3), it remains in the top three for both segments. Pay is always a top motivating factor, regardless of career, and trucking is no different. While not always ranking as the #1 factor for accepting one company offer over another, especially with younger generations, according to ATRI, 83.1% of company drivers stated that compensation was a top motivator.  

ATRI notes that pay has increased by 9.8% in the last year; yet pay remains a top issue for drivers. While income increased significantly in the previous year, it is barely above the inflation rate (8.2% in September 2022). While drivers have seen real wage growth of 1.6%, which is better than many sectors, many drivers feel that pay rates at this time do not yet match the effort and sacrifice required by this profession.

Detention/ Delay at Customer Facilities

Detention/ Delay at customer facilities ranked 4th for all commercial drivers, and, for company drivers alone, it came in as the 3rd most important issue. Delay at customer facilities causes a whole host of issues for drivers, from safe parking options to compensation.

According to the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association's 2021 Detention Time Survey, which includes company drivers, 32% of drivers spent 6-10 hours per week waiting to load, and 31% spent 6-10 hours a week waiting to unload. As the 2021 Detention Time Survey showed, drivers lose 3.0-3.6% of their yearly income to detention, and motor carriers lose $250.6- 302.9 million in annual net income.  

Loss of pay is not the only effect of delays. Not all companies allow drivers to park on-site as they wait to load/unload, forcing them to look elsewhere for parking. Many sites do not even offer the use of restrooms or water fountains to drivers.

Economy

It is safe to say the economy is an area of concern for everyone in the U.S. today; for commercial drivers, it ranks 6th among their issues. High inflation, fears of a global recession, supply chain shortages, and fuel prices are hitting everyone. 

Inflation lowers the real wage of drivers as the cost-of-living skyrockets. They face the prospect of a global recession, which could limit their millage or eliminate their jobs. While the shortage of drivers does make widespread driver layoffs unlikely, the cost of fuel and parts may cause owner-operators to move into company driver’ positions, and smaller companies may be forced to fold creating volatility in the driver job market. 

HOS Rules

Hours-of-Service rules ranked 7th on commercial drivers' list of concerns. Per the ATRI survey, two main issues come to light regarding HOS rules. First, drivers want more flexibility in the sleeper berth provision. Second, detention times impact the ability to work most productively with the HOS rules.

Allowing drivers more flexibility within their 14-hour clock would allow for better productivity without sacrificing safety. According to Land Line Media, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has "asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to expand the split-sleeper options and allow drivers to pause their 14-hour clock up to three hours."  

ELD Mandate

The ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate comes in at #8 on the issues for drivers. The inflexibility of the 14-hour clock when you have ELD causes frustration. Regardless of the reason, whether you find yourself stuck in your customer’s yard waiting on your load, waiting on the side of the road for roadside assistance, or stuck in a traffic jam; the clock keeps on rolling. It does not matter if you were able to take a nap in your truck or not; the ELD holds you to the strict 14-hour schedule. It is the inflexibility of the system that provides frustration for drivers.  

Driver Training Standards

Driver training standards came in at #9 for commercial drivers. The survey showed that, among drivers, there was concern that too many new drivers do not have the skills and training to handle their trucks effectively and safely. They also expressed concern that the trainers educating these next-gen drivers are not well trained themselves. Poorly trained drivers negatively impact everyone, making the roads unsafe and jeopardizing, not just themselves, but everyone on the road with them. 

Transportation infrastructure/ Congestion/ Funding

While transportation infrastructure/congestion/funding fell out of the overall top 10 in 2022 (replaced by fuel costs, economy, and speed limiters), it still comes in at the #10 spot for commercial drivers who deal with these infrastructure issues daily. President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill in November 2021, which, among other things, will provide funding to improve bridges and roads and reduce congestion. Hopefully, with projects completed by the infrastructure law, driver stress will be diminished, and productivity will improve.  

Conclusion

Understanding the issues that drivers feel are the most impactful for the trucking industry is important to ensure that you are meeting your drivers' needs and advocating for reforms that benefit your drivers. It also allows you to counter objections you may face with recruiting.  

Are you not meeting your recruitment goals? Join LzRecruit Network! Lower your Cost Per Lead and Time to Hire today. We offer 100% direct leads. For more information on the LzRecruit Network, contact us at 800-755-0623.

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Debra_lz

Debra Watkins covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone. A Nashville native, after graduating from the University of Kentucky, Debra utilized her research and writing skills in the museum and heritage tourism fields, rising to director of two institutions before returning to Nashville in 2020 to join Lionzone.  

Resources:

https://truckingresearch.org/2022/10/22/critical-issues-in-the-trucking-industry-2022/

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi

https://www.ooida.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2021-Detention-Time-Survey.pdf

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/BUILDING-A-BETTER-AMERICA_FINAL.pdf

https://landline.media/its-time-for-more-hours-of-service-flexibility-ooida-says/

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