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Driver amenities, poor relationships and pay, and ELD concerns among top driver frustrations

Basic amenities are among driver’s top wishes at shipper locations, but pay and ELD concerns are also issues that affect their work experiences, according to a new survey. ( Photo: FreightWaves Staff Photographer )

Basic amenities such as snacks, coffee or water, and a bathroom rank high among truck drivers as improvements shippers can implement at their locations to improve the driver experience, according to a new survey conducted jointly by Kenco and CarrierLists.

Of drivers surveyed by the firms, 44.4% say having a breakroom open to drivers and offering snacks, coffee or water, free WiFi and bathrooms is most important to them while 22.3% think more understanding of mistakes and tardiness is most important. Sixty-one percent of respondents believe warehouses can be better partners in the process by becoming more efficient in loading and unloading.

Those findings correlate with ideas surrounding “shipper of choice” programs that many now espouse. The idea is that by treating drivers and by extension their carriers with respect, shippers will more easily secure capacity from those carriers, often at better rates.

When it comes to keeping drivers happy, though, carriers have a lot of influence, though it’s not just about pay. Fifty percent of respondents say a good relationship with management and dispatchers ranks at the top of the list, versus just 42.1% who say that competitive pay is most important.

In the past year, shipper of choice has become a mantra for some as capacity shrunk and rates rose. Paying quickly and accurately and keeping driver detention time to a minimum are just two of the approaches shippers are trying to achieve shipper of choice status.

Drivers also said that consistent, steady work, is important, with 26.6% checking this box on the survey.

In a 2017 survey seeking to find out what drivers most wanted, WorkHound found that pay came in fourth. WorkHound collected comments across its driver database of what drivers were most often mentioning in communications. Topping that list were mentions of work relationships, mentioned the most by 17.1% of all drivers, followed by equipment (16%), logistics related to the driver’s workday (15.9%) and pay (15.3%).

“Ultimately, the things that stood out to us is trucking is still a relationship business,” Max Farrell, co-founder & CEO of WorkHound, said at the time the survey was released. Drivers want to be respected and treated well, he noted.

One of the greatest impacts in 2018 that directly relates to a driver’s experience was the hard enforcement deadline in April for electronic logging devices (ELDs). In the Kenco/CarrierLists survey, 70% of drivers reported they had suffered an impact from the ELDs, with 71.8% seeing a decrease in hours on the road and 42% seeing a decrease in privacy as carriers were able to more closely track drivers and their available hours.

Long-haul drivers, often paid by the mile, saw the greatest impact from ELDs with 85% saying they experienced an impact versus just 46% of short haul or local truck drivers.

Survey respondent breakdown included 60.9% long-haul tractor-trailer drivers; 30.4% short haul/local tractor-trailer drivers, and 8.7% box truck drivers.

Among drivers’ overall concerns, reasonable compensation tops the list, with 71% noting it as a job frustration. Driver safety, both on and off-the-road, came in second, mentioned by 66.7% of drivers and privacy issues because of the ELD mandate were third, mentioned by 55.9% of respondents.

Breaking down the safety issues, 38.7% said that inconsiderate or unsafe drivers on the roadway were a significant frustration of the truck driver’s job, while 34.2% said unfriendly facilities or customers created the most difficulty on the job. Another 32.1% said finding a place to park at night was the most difficult part of the job.

On the roadways themselves, drivers are also faced with poor infrastructure, with 39.1% of drivers citing that as a concern, and roadways that are not large enough to handle traffic flow, specifically roads that are only two lanes that should be three or more based on the amount of traffic. Thirty-seven percent of respondents cited this, which ties into traffic congestion. Congestion costs the U.S. trucking industry more than $63 billion a year, says the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). ATRI said the cost of congestion, per truck per year, is $5,664.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.