National Truck Driver Appreciation Week kicked off Sept. 14 and rolled through Sept. 20. Truck drivers across the U.S. were honored for safe driving, treated to company cookouts, and in some cases received bonuses and gifts from employers.
This year, truck drivers may feel a little more appreciated than usual. The competition for drivers among large truckload carriers has intensified to a level where it is affecting all sectors of trucking. That’s finally kicking driver pay and benefits packages into higher gear.
It’s time for trucking companies of all stripes to put their money where their motor is and increase driver pay. Industry leaders are already raising their per mile pay rates and laggards will soon find themselves alone in a terminal yard, holding the keys to an empty truck.
Shippers who say, “I’m not paying that rate so my carrier can raise driver pay” are likely to find themselves standing by a dock, wondering where all the trucks went. If you want reliable work done, in transportation, as elsewhere, you pay for it, and you get what you pay for.
Simply put, trucking pay is not keeping up with compensation offered by other industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tractor-trailer wage first broke above $40,000 in 2012 and reached $40,960 in 2013, an increase of 1.4 percent.
Really, are we surprised there’s a driver shortage out there? By the way, that annual average BLS truck driving wage last year was 11.8 percent lower than the average BLS U.S. wage for all occupations, which came in at $46,440. In 2001, the gap was just 1 percent.
Driver pay may have to rise substantially to put an end to the driver shortage — higher than may be possible in the short-term — but there are other ways to show drivers some appreciation. One that is mentioned often is “home time.” Fewer drivers, apparently, want to spend weeks on the road, driving 11 hours, working 12 to 14 hour days. Perhaps at the pay levels mentioned above, fewer drivers can afford to, especially if they have a family.
Giving drivers more home time is no easier than raising pay, however, especially for long-haul, irregular route truckload carriers. The business model has to change.
The time is coming when the most successful carriers will be the ones that are the most driver-centric. That means building a business model that puts the driver first, as the most valuable asset or resource, one that needs to be kept on payroll for the company to succeed. That also means the customer doesn’t always come first, especially when that customer keeps a driver waiting for hours to unload and won’t let him or her use a toilet.
Shippers can show their appreciation for truck drivers by treating them humanely and decently. Provide drivers with a break room, give them access to the facilities they need. That’s a start. Be aware that detention takes money out of drivers’ pockets. Shippers entrust millions of dollars of goods to truck drivers. Shouldn’t they give them respect, too?
Joc.com, August 15, 2014
- Posted by Page Siplon
- On September 22, 2014
- 0 Comments