Does Truck Drivers Play a Huge Role in the Success or Failure of Any Trucking Company?

role of truck driver in trucking company success


What’s the first thing that pops to mind when you think about success in the trucking business?

If you are thinking of finding profitable loads to haul and exceeding your capacity, then you are not alone. The success of many owner-operators and trucking businesses does hinge on finding loads and maintaining the loyalty of profitable customers.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) expects the business and related jobs to grow by 3% through 2029.

Now, as your trucking business grows, your customer network will expand, and your delivery destinations will stack up. The next thing to do is to buy, lease, or rent trucks to grow your trucking business.

But there’s a twist.

You need more qualified drivers to make those timely deliveries, avoid truck accidents, and keep your customers happy.

Here’s the thing, though: In October 2019, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) revealed industry stakeholders ranked driver shortage as the most pressing challenge for the industry for the third year straight.

Source: ATRI 2019

  • In 2018, the ATA estimated that the annualized turnover rate for large truckload carriers was 94% and 73% for small carriers. It was still a top-6 concern in 2019
  • The ATA showed the industry had a shortfall of 60,700 drivers in 2018
  • A 2019 StayMetrics survey of 89 carriers that had correctively hired 3,000 truck drivers at the start of 2018 showed only 40% of those recruits remained at the same trucking company by January 2019

The ATA in its July 2019 report, estimated driver shortage   could hit over 105,000 by 2023 if the current trend holds, and up to 160,000 by 2028

Source: American Trucking Association 2019 report

So, the statistics show a concerning trend for growing trucking companies looking for qualified CDL drivers and experienced interstate truck drivers.

So, what is it that’s contributing to the runaway annual truck driver turnovers?

Prevention is a better strategy than cure. And to understand how to handle truck driver shortages in the industry, the smart thing is to start with knowing what’s causing the exodus.

Then you can come up with countermeasures that will help you enjoy a high driver retention rate in 2020 and beyond.

What’s causing the truck driver shortage in 2020?

Here are evidence-based causes of truck drivers around the country. We’ve followed the problems with potential solutions for how to solve the truck driver shortage problem for your trucking business in 2020.

1. Truck drivers say they are poorly paid

Drivers leave because they feel they are not compensated for all the work they do.

The American Transportation Research Institute reported in 2019 that inadequate driver compensation was a top concern among truck drivers in the previous year.

Some drivers felt disappointed by promises of making upwards of $55,000 a year but wound up making about $34,000 to $38,500.

Also, many trucking companies pay drivers on a per-mile basis, which drivers say is a raw deal considering time spent in traffic while delivering loads through city streets is not compensated for, and so chops into their compensation.

How to address the pay issue:

  • If you can, consider raising your truck driver’s annual salary to attract qualified CDL drivers. During the 2019 Las Vegas edition of the yearly Truckload Carriers Association, co-president of DriveriQ, Lana Batts, revealed survey results that showed recruiters believed trucking companies needed to provide an average of $75,000 in annual salary to attract qualified drivers.
  • Offer incentives. The ATRI found in 2018 that 23.5% of trucking companies were using this method to increase driver retainment; $1,317 in average annual safety bonuses, and $2,542 in average on-time yearly delivery bonus.
  • Again, if you can, pay your drivers on a per hour basis to compensate for the time they spend stuck in delivery stations, loading and offloading, as examples.
  • However, trucking company executives told ATRI that driver compensation was becoming a high cost for them in 2019, so consider striking a bargain by discussing payment terms with your drivers.

2. Some carriers can’t find qualified truck drivers

An interesting finding the ATA revealed in 2015 was that while 88% of fleets said that they did receive enough applications, the applicants were simply not qualified drivers. Getting in touch with experienced truck drivers can be tough if you are not sure where to look. So, what to do?

How to find qualified truck drivers fast, smooth, and reliably:

  • Technology is your friend: Take Truckbook, a mobile app you can use to find experienced CDL drivers in one place, for example. With Truckbook, you can connect with other fleet operators and a driver community and have skilled drivers within a calling distance when you want to ramp up operations.

  • You can then use Driver Reach, a solid truck driver recruitment and compliance management system, to hire qualified, experienced, safety-first minded drivers, and run background check on impressive drivers.

That way, you can avoid wasting precious time interviewing dozens of unqualified drivers and go straight to hiring proven drivers in as little as a day, not weeks

3. There are much fewer young drivers getting into trucking than older drivers are exiting the industry

The average age of a truck driver in the U.S. is 47 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Many are retiring, but few younger drivers are replacing them.

The ATRI found that young drivers cited a combination of low pay, long hours, and wanting to have time for their young families as reasons for exiting or avoiding the trucking industry altogether.

So, how do you attract young drivers?

  • Federal trucking regulations allow truckers to hire drivers that are 21 years old for interstate deliveries while both the local and national rules clear 18-year-old drivers to make deliveries within state lines.
  • So consider hiring this demographic while they want to gain actual driving experience (with proper training, of course). Younger drivers may also not have tight family

  • obligations to worry about compared to older drivers.

You’ll also want to consider hiring more women and qualified drivers from minority groups to increase the pool of talent and experience from which to hire the best long-term drivers for your company.

  1.  Drivers are leaving because of intolerable working conditions        

Long driving hours. Biased dispatchers. Difficult supervisors. Brutal FMSCA regulations, penalties, and fines. Inaccurate GPS directions. Traffic accidents. Tough luck when locating safe and ideal truck parking.

The ATRI found additional more driver issues in 2019:

Truck drivers deal with more than just other motorists and truck routing challenges.

If you can help alleviate some or all of the above challenges, you can attract ideal candidates to drive your business forward.

How to improve truck driver working conditions:

  • Encourage driver feedback to learn what they are dealing with and how you can help. That way, you can improve driver satisfaction and boost retention.
  • Implement and encourage your drivers to apply the newest FMSCA Hours of Service regulations to avoid run-ins with the law, curb driving fatigue and subsequent accidents, and promote cordial relationships among drivers and supervisors.
  • Download the Truckbook mobile app to use the inbuilt accurate GPS, truck routing, emergency roadside assistance, and truck parking features to help your drivers make your operations more efficient without stress about it.

Will taking the recommendations we’ve discussed above help your freight company succeed?

Rest assured.

To quote Tim Hindes, co-founder and CEO of StayMetrics, focus on:

drivers first—not customers, not shareholders. They get taken care of in the end.”

Your award is being able to attract and retain qualified CDL drivers to grow your trucking business.

What’s the end-game?

Having a great team of drivers can mean the following benefits to your trucking company:

  1. A reduction in the annual insurance premiums you have to pay
  2. A decrease in your company’s truck accidents
  3. An increase in fuel efficiency, which includes your drivers avoiding wasteful idling and driving at up to 65 miles per hour
  4. An increase in customer service

Receiving accurate driver feedback to help you foresee problematic areas so you can proactively solve them

These are just a couple of measurable benefits that can positively impact your trucking bottom-line.

The smartest, long-term, and reliable way to beat the truck driver shortage is to focus on improving the factors that promote your drivers’ job satisfaction.

Finding and keeping experienced truck drivers can be the highway to growing your freight business. Truckbook app for IOS or the Android app is helping over 10,000 owner-operators and 5,000 trucking companies to find skilled CDL drivers in one place easily. Download Truckbook today to beat the driver shortage as well.

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