What Do Drivers Want?

Did you celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week by thanking a driver? Here at AMT, we sure hope so because drivers and their commitment to the open road are the heart of a bustling economy.

We thought we’d continue the Thank a Driver trend this week by investigating what drivers want and how shippers and carriers can appreciate drivers every day of the year.

So what do truck drivers want? Is there an actual answer to this question? We’ve had the good fortune to be in the business for 30 years, and we’ve spent a fair amount of time talking to truck drivers who are–GUESS WHAT–pretty much like everyone else.

And what does that mean?

It means that truck drivers want to be treated with respect. It means that truck drivers want to be seen, said “hello” and “goodbye” to, considered. Sure, this seems like a no-brainer, but the truth is that drivers are often overlooked, underpaid, and unacknowledged.

It’s why National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is a good start, but it’s not enough.

We’ve all heard about the driver shortage, right? In fact, if you haven’t heard about it, you’ve probably not been paying attention because it’s all the news. Bob Costello, chief economist of American Trucking Associations (ATA), asserts that we were short a good 50,000 drivers at the beginning of 2018, and that number is climbing and will continue to climb to 175,000 by 2026. Whoa!

According to Costello, the truck driver turnover rate in 2017 was a whopping 87%.  What is happening to all of those drivers? Are they leaving the industry?

What Truck Drivers Want from Carriers!

Some of this turnover leads drivers to smaller carriers. A few weeks ago, we had the great fortune to sit down with some truck drivers from Smith Transfer located in Evansville, Indiana. And we thought we’d share what we found out.

They like working with smaller carriers like Smith because of the everyone knows your name factor. In fact, the drivers we talked to said, working for Smith was like being part of a family. That translated into a willingness to get drivers home once or twice a week, weekends off the road, emergency time off.

While we often hear that higher pay is the most important factor for drivers, it’s not the only thing they care about. “Everyone knows my name,” one driver explained.

This consideration of the driver is also evident in Smith’s equipment. New trucks are equipped with refrigerators, nice TempurPedic mattresses, heated and massaging seats and cruise control.

And flexibility is key. Drivers can choose to go for longer routes and more money, or they can focus on shorter trips and the time to spend with their families.

The drivers we talked to were happy with their positions and all of them plan to stick with Smith for the long-haul. Sounds like the folks at Smith Transfer have a pretty good idea of what drivers want.


What Truck Drivers Want from Shippers!

Tight capacity means it’s imperative for shippers to get on the appreciate-the-driver bandwagon. So what can shippers do to thank and attract drivers?

Truthfully, it all comes down to respect. And having respect for drivers is shown in a variety of ways.

Don’t force drivers to wait too long to load or unload. And if you do make them wait–pay for it, quickly!

Spruce up break rooms or waiting facilities. Offer clean bathrooms, wireless service, coffee, soft drinks, and a vending machine with a few healthy choices.

Be flexible. Offer a variety of pickup and/or delivery times. Provide drop-and-hook solutions to maximize drivers’ time.

Listen–it’s not that hard. Remember that truck drivers are people who, like you, appreciate kindness, honesty, and respect.  And don’t forget to say Thank You! We promise, it will go a long way!