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?