Trucking is an objectively difficult and incredibly important job. I mean, trucking is one of the largest industries in the United States, and it’s only growing. Of the entire United States freight industry, trucking makes up about 80%.
Like any massive industry, trucking is not perfect, and there are a few critical issues in the industry today. Some of the issues in the industry are difficult to be fixed at the driver level, but luckily, there are ways that truckers can both make themselves happier and their lives just a little bit easier – even when they can’t single-handedly fix every problem in the industry.
These are 4 of the top issues facing truck drivers today, plus how the drivers can adapt to them.
1. Burnout (as a result of the driver shortage)
One of the biggest issues in trucking is the national truck driver shortage. The truth is, it’s not that there aren’t “enough” truck drivers. The truth is that most truck drivers burnout of this industry and do not last. This industry has an alarming burnout rate.
For truckers, especially newbies, this means that learning to work reasonably is important. If you can last as a trucker, you won’t just make great money, but you’ll be able to enjoy a long career that’s full of benefits and has lots of room for growth.
The key for drivers who are struggling with overwork is to develop a strong sense of both their personal limits and safety protocols. It might sound “lame” or “corny”, but occupational burnout is a national epidemic, and it affects many drivers. I mean, think about it. Trucking is one of the largest industries in the entire country, and we don’t have enough drivers.
Obviously, the result of this is going to be overworked drivers, if we aren’t careful. That’s why at Legacy, we strive to treat our drivers like people first and drivers second. We’re a family business. Notice the word “family” is in front of the word “business”.
2. Driver Compensation
Though it seems like everyone rags on and on about how much great money you can make as a trucker, fair compensation is still an issue in trucking today. The concern with this issue is not that driver pay isn’t increasing (it is), but that driver pay might not be increasing fast enough to keep up with the rate of inflation.
Some truckers are getting paid more money but are actually making less money in the long run due to inflation.
So what’s the solution for drivers?
Really, the solution here is research and knowledge. If you don’t ever learn about inflation and trucker pay, you’ll be a victim in this payment injustice without even knowing it, and you’ll be working just as hard (if not harder) than truckers in the past.
Here’s a great resource that can help you keep up with the rate of inflation in the US.
When we talk about delays in trucking, we’re not just talking about driving behind slow grandmas, distracted teen drivers, or dealing with unpredictable weather. We’re also talking about dealing with delays at storage facilities and customer facilities.
I mean, time is money, right? These delays cost drivers valuable time they could be spending with family, or time they could be using to earn money for other jobs that are more pressing.
For drivers, we can’t always make our delays disappear, but we can improve the way that we handle the delays when they make their way into our days. If customers and other facilities can do their part and work on creating more efficient methods to avoid delays, truckers can also work on being patient with these facilities as they adjust.
I mean, someone’s going to have to swallow their pride eventually and take ownership for these issues that are largely due to human error. If both drivers and their customers can work together, we can fix this huge issue in the industry.
4. Driver Retention
Like we said when we talked about the crucial issue of overwork in the industry, the driver shortage is largely caused by the incredibly high turnover rate in the trucking industry. So why do drivers quit?
There are quite a few reasons why truckers quit long before they can reap the benefits of this incredibly flourishing career, and most of the reasons are actually listed above in this article. If we can improve trucker compensation, decrease the frequency and duration of delays, and create a workspace where truckers can actually prioritize their longevity and mental health, young drivers will begin to see trucking for what it is: a marathon, not a sprint.
By losing drivers in the early days of their careers, we also make it harder for older drivers to leave the industry at “normal” times when they’d expect to switch to an “off-the-road” job or even just out of the industry.
Because electric trucks and self-driving cars are on their way, people make it seem like trucking and shipping are dying industries. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Trucking isn’t going anywhere in the next few years, and though the industry may look different in the future, there are always going to be people required to help keep this industry functioning and flourishing.
We just have to make sure we can keep them around.