Keeping Truck Drivers on the Road: More Money, Less Chicken?

How does a million dollars sound in exchange for driving a truck? Pretty dang good, right?

That’s how much Swift Transportation was awarding select winners in a driver retention campaign in the mid-2000s.

While that specific program seems to have ended, trucking companies continue to look for ways to combat the ongoing driver shortage. Drivers with good records can sometimes win money, prizes, and even new cars. Why such big prizes? While the transportation of goods continues to be a backbone of American production and growth, more and more truck cabs are found with an empty driver’s seat.

While trucking isn’t the only industry to have a skilled labor shortage, the transportation industry particularly suffers from relatively low job satisfaction. A 2011 research study found that 60% of truck drivers would not recommend their occupation to their own children. Reasons included excessive time away from home, poor pay, and a lack of respect for their hard work.

Another problem is that older drivers are parking their rigs for good, getting out of the trucking business due to age or health concerns. The average age for a commercial driver is 55, and it can be hard to stay in good health on the road. An estimated 86% of truckers are overweight or obese, according to a 2007 report. This is unsurprising considering the food available on the road is all “fried, fried, fried,” as Bill Johnson, a 25-year industry veteran, told the New York Times.

As you likely know, we could go on and on about the driver shortage and the many reasons the industry struggles to attract and retain good drivers. In many ways, it will be up to fleet managers and trucking companies to implement policies, strategies, and campaigns that are effective. Some commonly mentioned solutions include better pay and hours, allowing for sufficient time at home, connecting drivers with the team, recognizing their efforts, and helping truckers achieve a healthy lifestyle.

What do you think? Is the solution to the driver shortage simply more money and less fried chicken? Leave us a comment below – What can be done to help keep good drivers on the road? What keeps you on the road??

3 thoughts on “Keeping Truck Drivers on the Road: More Money, Less Chicken?

  1. Respect. Apu, or liberal idle policy. Those are my two biggest. Too many dispatchers are only worried about what happens between 0800 and 1700. As for the apu, let the company president sleep in a truck when it’s 80 degrees outside and over 90 inside. It may be expensive, but so is having to hire drivers all the time.

  2. I have been driving for about 4 years and I still enjoy driving. Of course there are days that make me doubt this feeling but as a whole, I still enjoy it. One of the main irritations for me is when I get into a disagreement with a shipper for them being rude or lying to me about delays or whatever, my company that I am leased to always takes the shippers (read paying customers) side in the arguement. I am the outsider that is causing the problems and never the customer. Dispatchers that give you no options for different loads are also a big problem.Oh, also the company that I am leased to will not let drivers go into the offices where “normal” people work. We have to stand at a counter and deal with everything in front of everyone else.Bill L. from Washington State.


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