Driver recruitment and driver retention continue to be the industry’s biggest challenges, according to the 2018 Transportation Spotlight Report. A total of 1,000 trucking executives and managers were surveyed. Their responses were:
- 69% respondents said recruiting drivers is the biggest challenge
- 54% asserted that retention is an issue as well
The result of the survey wasn’t a complete surprise because the driver shortage has been a prominent issue for some time. The recent ATRI’s report also ranked driver shortage as the biggest industry concern, overtaking other issues, such as hours of service rules, trucking parking issues, and the FMCSA’s ELD mandate.
According to data collected by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the industry will need 900,000 new commercial drivers within the next ten years. Moreover, approximately 440,000 drivers will be required only to cover foreseeable driver retirements. 252,000 will be needed to handle ongoing freight growth.
The average age of a U.S. truck driver is 50. In comparison, the age of the average U.S. worker is 42. The sudden “retirement spike” is turning out to be a major concern for the trucking industry.
Furthermore, the industry has one of the smallest percentages of younger workers.
Increasing freight demand
According to the ATA’s Chief Economist, Bob Costello, based on freight demand, the trucking industry was short of 51,000 drivers last year. He pointed out that if the trend lines do not change, the shortage is expected to hit 174,000 within the next 8 years.
Referring back to 51,000 drivers that the trucking industry needed last year, Bob said, “That does not sound like a lot when you compare that to the often-cited 3.1 million truck drive population figure. But when you whittle it down, 1.7 million of them are tractor-trailer drivers and 500,000 of those are in that long-haul irregular route TL segment, which is where most of the shortage is. And being short 51,000 drivers in a population of 500,000 is a bigger deal.”
Contrary to popular belief, driver pay is constantly increasing. According to the Driver Compensation Study by the ATA, the median salary for a commercial driver has increased by 15% since 2013, a consistent increase of $7,000 per annum.
On the other hand, the median salary for private fleet drivers has increased from $73,000 to $86,000, which is an increase of 18%.
Bob Costello said, “This latest survey, which includes data from more than 100,000 drivers, shows that fleets are reacting to an increasingly tight market for drivers by boosting pay, improving benefit packages, and offering other enticements to recruit and retain safe and experienced drivers.”
Costello also said the survey shows that “carriers are offering thousands of dollars in bonuses to attract new drivers.”
How to fix the driver recruitment and driver retention problems?
The report also collected opinions of trucking industry executives and managers on how to fix the driver recruitment and retention problems.
Here are the results of that survey:
- 61% of respondents said that they intend to invest in retention programs
- 58% think initiating training and development programs will help
- 54% believe in increasing follow-up communication
- 53% want to employ non-monetary tactics such as driver appreciation programs
- 42% think that they can retain drivers by increasing their pay
- 40% want to give performance bonuses a shot
Driver happiness and the impact of poor ELD solutions
While all the techniques mentioned above are worth a shot, it is important to note that this is a slightly different era for the trucking industry as well as for commercial drivers. Despite a reasonable increase in driver pay, retention is still an issue that many companies are facing.
The way truckers used to operate has been changed. Now, they have to deal with electronic logging devices, strict regulations, and compliance issues.
ELDs are mandatory; they aren’t going anywhere. However, if you’re using a device that isn’t entirely user-friendly and has plenty of issues, it will negatively affect driver happiness and driver retention rates.
Motive recently conducted a survey that revealed that only 21% of drivers are happy with their current ELD solution. Moreover, 73% of drivers experience one or more ELD issues every week.
When drivers come across an issue with their ELD, they don’t get the customer support they deserve. Approximately, 64% of drivers reported that they aren’t happy with the quality of customer service they get from their current ELD provider.
Motive is the number-one-rated ELD solution by drivers. During our survey, 80% of drivers said that they are very happy with the Motive ELD solution and are six times more likely to recommend Motive to a friend.