Heavy Duty Trucking’s “Drivers Series” of Articles are Must Read

To start off the New Year, Heavy Duty Trucking began a continuing 10-part series that highlights glaring issues impacting the trucking industry along with ways fleets are attempting to solve them. In Part-1 of HDT’s series, Driver Pay: Making the Grade, David Cullen, Executive Editor of HDT explains how current trucking wages is a serious cause for concern and what fleets are doing to help recruit and retain drivers.

It’s no secret driver turnover and retention hound the trucking industry. Citing the National Transportation Institute, Cullen wrote the age of the average trucker is 52, a number that only goes up. With an improving economy and a shrinking blue-collar labor workforce, fewer people seek out jobs in the trucking industry. The days of trucking as a career path are fading. Even by offering new equipment, technology or strong safety measures, fleets find those are not enough to attract new recruits. To make matters worse, trucker wages haven’t kept up with inflation. Nowadays the average trucker makes just over $50,000.

Cullen pointed out that Millennials have different priorities than their predecessors when it comes to job requirements. In general, Millennials want to be home every night and they seek out stable pay. When truck drivers are grounded due to inclement weather, or they didn’t get the right reimbursement, or in some cases, when they find fleets pay them less than what they originally offered as suggested by Cullen, panic over the ability to pay the monthly rent or mortgage or other bills quickly sets in.

With these things in mind, more fleets are going to the drawing board to figure out how to overcome these growing issues with better pay packages to help recruit and retain drivers.

Take for example the experience-based pay package that CFI created. Cullen reported that on top of company-wide increases in pay-per-mile for solo and team drivers, the Joplin, Missouri-based company shortened the amount of time it takes to reach top pay from 21 years to nine. Beginning drivers make 40 cents per mile and receive a 1-cent increase every 125,000 miles.

No More Robbing Peter to Pay Paul Due to Pay Day Surprise

Or how about the approach of creating a more stable pay environment for drivers taken by two Daseke companies: Bulldog Hiway Express and Boyd Bros.? By having “guaranteed pay,” they offer drivers the assurance of knowing their take-home pay won’t fall below a certain level each week. That way, things out of their drivers’ control, like weather delays, won’t cause them additional undue stress when they get paid.

With fleets becoming more creative with their pay packages, only time will tell if more money and more stable pay will be enough to slow the growing turnover and retention rates the trucking industry is faced with.