What Do Truck Drivers Want?

Some say there’s a driver shortage, and others say that it’s actually a problem of churn. Either way, for fleet owners with too many loads and too few drivers, it begs the question, “What do drivers want from their job?”

Below is a variety of answers to the question from industry experts and media pundits. Let us know your opinion by leaving your comment below.

(See the list of sources below for links to full articles.)

A good relationship with their front-line supervisor

“When I talk to leaders of companies that enjoy low turnover, I hear again and again about the importance of the relationship between drivers and the people they interact with at the company – none of them more important than their dispatcher. These fleets do things like having the driver and his dispatcher eat lunch together during orientation for the sole purpose of getting to know the driver on a personal level. They give their dispatchers training in topics such as communication and conflict resolution.”

Deborah Lockridge, Editor of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine

“Drivers value the front-line staff a whole lot more than being able to go to upper management and talk to them,” he explains. “If they can get issues addressed through their direct superior, they’re satisfied.”

Mark Murrell, President, CarriersEdge. CarriersEdge and the Truckload Carriers Association survey hundreds of drivers annually to compile the “Best Fleets to Drive For” list.

Compensation commensurate with their value to the company

“There’s got to be more to it than just so much a mile. There’s a direct correlation between the guys that we consider our most professional, most dependable drivers – the guys that get the best fuel mileage, the guys that do their pretrips, the guys we never have maintenance issues with, the guys that leave early and anticipate they may have a problem on the road – and how much they take home every week.”

Keith Tuttle, owner of Motor Carrier Service Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, which has been in the Truckload Carriers Associations top 20 list of “Best Fleets to Drive For” three years in a row. The company’s turnover rate is about 30%

More predictable pay

“Sometimes more pay isn’t as important as more predictable pay. Some of our locations have a tough time when they’re close to the oil and gas activities that have higher wages, but we’ve also seen about half the drivers want to come back within a few months. While the pay may sound great [hauling oil and gas], it’s not always there on a consistent basis.”

Steve Martin, Vice President, Ryder Dedicated

Recognition and compensation for a better safety record

“We believe CSA is going to be a game-changer, both for fleets and for drivers. Now more than ever, drivers’ safe driving records are going to be their biggest asset. Fleets who can attract and retain drivers with great safety records will have great safety scores – and that is going to be critical to their success.”

Joe Rajkovacz is Director of Regulatory Affairs for OOIDA, the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association.

More home time

“You rarely hear of a local or regional fleet (that gets drivers home frequently) with a driver shortage. Home time makes a big difference. Drivers who value home time may even accept lower pay rates to get it.”

Bob Costello, Chief Economist and Vice President for the American Trucking Associations

“[More home time] may mean more regional operations or more dedicated runs, relay operations, not taking on lanes that would inconvenience drivers, working with shippers to fine-tune lanes or delivery times or wait times, using sophisticated routing/planning systems, etc.”

Deborah Lockridge

“It doesn’t necessarily mean every night, but good visibility [for drivers] on what their schedule is so they can plan and have some stability in that area of their life.”

Steve Martin

Work with a company whose leadership respects and values drivers

“The number one thing that seems to make a difference is having an actively engaged executive team. We recommend execs meet drivers during orientation, show up at their driver meetings, get to know as many as possible by name, and foster a corporate culture that respects drivers.”

Mark Murrell

The tools they need to do their job better

“Fleets that…provide top-notch equipment will have a competitive edge. Those who assure their own productivity by developing strong lanes so drivers don’t have to sit and wait or work for no pay can attract safe, quality drivers and keep them.”

Joe Rajkovacz

“Electronic on-board recorders may also be very good for fleets and drivers. The ability to use available hours and equipment really efficiently can increase productivity for the fleet and pay for its drivers. Fleets who can exploit that efficiency will have a great competitive edge in this environment.”

Bob Costello

“Provide electronic onboard recorders that eliminate the need for drivers to keep paper mileage logs.”

Results from the Texas Trucking Industry Study gathering a list of best retention practices from 266 trucking companies.

What can companies do to find and keep good drivers? Leave your comment below.


“Are we having driver shortage déjà vu?” Bridgestone Real Answers.< http://www.bridgestonetrucktires.com/us_eng/real/magazines/ra_v16i1/ra_industry.asp>


“In Fifth Annual Survey and Contest, 20 Fleets Are Named Best Fleets to Drive For by TCA and CarriersEdge.” Truckload Carriers Association. < http://www.truckload.org/?bid=10&nid=342&archiveyear=2013>


“Nine Ideas to Find and Keep Drivers.” Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine. <http://heavydutytrucking.epubxp.com/i/136078>


“Texas Survey Highlights Driver Hiring Tips.” FleetOwner Magazine. <http://fleetowner.com/fleet-management/texas-survey-highlights-driver-hiring-tips>