Is Technology the Answer to the Driver Shortage?

It’s old news that we are in the midst of a driver shortage — one that is bad now and predicted to get worse. There are many strategies out there for attracting drivers but one thing is certain: if you want younger drivers, you are going to have to invest in technology. Shiny new technology won’t necessarily keep your older drivers on staff or attract seasoned drivers to join your fleet, but it will matter to the younger ones —and they are your company’s future.

It has become a balancing act. Younger drivers will insist on new technology. They will expect things like automated transmissions and telematics before they will even consider driving for you. These kids grew up with technology and not only are they comfortable with it, but they can’t imagine life without it.

For the most part, older drivers are not as excited about it. Like most of us, they don’t like change and think things are fine just the way they are, especially when it comes to automatic transmissions. Many older drivers take great pride in their ability to operate an 18-speed manual gearbox.

A tip to get buy-in from these drivers: ask them to drive one of your vehicles equipped with an AMT with the assurance that if they don’t like it they can go back to the manual. We’ve heard from fleets that used that technique. After a few days of driving a truck equipped with an AMT, many of the older drivers didn’t want to go back to the manual tranny.

Technology aside, if you want to reach a younger audience, you need to change your recruiting methods. If you don’t have an online strategy and aren’t using social media, you’ll never find this cohort. They live in a mobile and social networking world and you need to be there with them. Hold on to your traditional recruiting methods because there may be good, seasoned drivers out there who are unhappy with their current situation and looking to make a change. But mix it up to be sure you are reaching out to the right audience, with the right message and medium.

Addressing the prickly driver shortage requires balancing the old with the new. Invest in technology for sure, but we careful not to push it too hard on your older drivers. Let them notice how it helps the new drivers, and maybe they’ll come around to it on their own.

TAGS: Equipment
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