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How to mitigate drivers’ top concerns

Oct. 24, 2023
Making parking more accessible and communicating with drivers, shippers, and brokers are just two ways managers can improve the life of a trucker.

The trucking industry has faced a lot of uncertainty this year. Plummeting freight rates, a negative imbalance in freight to haul versus trucks to haul it, and high fuel prices are causing some drivers to turn in their keys and smaller trucking operations to close their doors. It's enough to make any fleet owner or truck driver nervous about their future.

Yet, although those are issues that plague the industry as a whole, truck drivers have concerns of their own. Clark Reed, an over-the-road driver for Nussbaum Transportation, has driven a truck since 2005. But Reed told FleetOwner his No. 1 concern as a driver had nothing to do with the issues facing executives.

Offer parking reimbursement

"Parking has been an issue for a long time, and it's not going away," Reed said. This isn't a problem only Reed has encountered.

Maurice Bey has driven a truck for seven years and has been an owner-operator for two of those years. He also runs a YouTube channel, "The Helpful Trucker," where he shares his experience as a driver and hosts guests who offer insight to his trucking peers and channel viewers. Additionally, Bey hears from drivers frequently as a result of the feedback he receives from truckers on his videos; the guests he hosts on his show; and the fact that his father, his brother, several of his uncles, and many of his cousins are also truckers.

Bey agrees with Reed that parking has become a problem in the industry.

And it's a problem nationwide. Currently, there is only one parking spot for every 11 trucks, according to NPR. As a result, drivers spend an average of one hour per day trying to secure a spot, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives to help resolve the problem, but Reed and Bey said fleet companies can offer relief now.

See also: Parking startup Rig Hut aims to solve truck parking's management headaches

Bey told FleetOwner that fleet managers could do a better job with trip planning, and Reed said simply offering reimbursement for paid parking would help.

"With the rise of more and more reserved and paid parking, drivers aren't wanting to foot that money out of their pocket," Reed told FleetOwner. "One way to mitigate that … is to just reimburse the paid parking or reserved parking, whether they put a limit on how many times a month that can be used."

Reed's employer, Nussbaum, reimburses its drivers for parking, and knowing that parking won't take money out of his pocket allows Reed to be more productive and at ease.

"It gives me peace of mind knowing that I'm going to have a place to park when I get there," Reed said. "When you can take that load off your mind and concentrate on driving, there's a little bit of a safety factor there, too."

Communicate with logistics partners

Although Reed and Bey said many of their peers find parking to be a main concern, WorkHound, an employee feedback platform, offers perspective from a broader pool of drivers. WorkHound allows truck drivers and other frontline workers to share anonymous feedback with their employers. To improve employee retention, WorkHound takes these comments and shares insights and solutions with employers. There were two WorkHound trucking-related reports released this year: the 2022 WorkHound Annual Trends Report and a 2023 Driver Perspectives Amid a Freight Slowdown report.

WorkHound gathered feedback from drivers in segments such as small carriers (up to 99 drivers), medium carriers (100 to 499 drivers), large carriers (500 to 999 drivers), and enterprise carriers (1,000 or more drivers).

According to the Driver Perspectives report, logistics was the top concern among all segments, which aligns with the industry's current circumstances. One driver's anonymous feedback stated, "We are not getting the loads, the miles, and the waiting time is unbelievable."

See also: Bogus brokering met with aggressive counterattack

Reed also touched on the subject. He said with brokered loads, drivers aren't given accurate information upfront when they need it. "They're being told an appointment time when it's a window, or they're being told a load is being picked up here when it's actually here."

While shippers and receivers are variables outside the fleet companies' operations, WorkHound Co-founder and CEO Max Farrell told FleetOwner there are steps fleet companies can take to alleviate this headache for truck drivers.

Farrell said one of the things carriers have done is use driver feedback, such as continually having a bad experience at shipper's location, and taking that to the customer to share expectations that something needs to change.

Reed also mentioned data, telling FleetOwner that communication and accurate data or a data-driven approach would help.

"Attack the problem at the base level and say, 'Look, we need right numbers,'" Reed said. "' We'll cover your stuff, but you've got to be upfront with rate times.' That allows better planning, and it makes for a happier driver."

See also: How to make truck drivers feel appreciated

Bey told FleetOwner that brokered loads and brokers are the second-highest concern behind freight rates among the drivers he knows but for reasons other than inaccurate information.

"Truckers have big issues nowadays with how brokers handle truck drivers, handle carriers," Bey said. "There are a lot of truck drivers that I hear from that seem to feel that brokers are, for whatever reason, taking too much from the transaction and not leaving enough for the truck driver."

Much like Farrell's suggested solution of communicating concerns with shippers and receivers, Bey suggested carriers communicate their concerns with brokers. He said it's essential to be "on the same page with a broker as far as what you're willing to haul," as well as how much or how little to be paid for it. Bey said that accepting loads that don't pay enough is like telling a broker their rates are acceptable.

"Fleet owners have to find a way to not haul freight that's not paying enough," Bey told FleetOwner, and he explained one way to do that is to keep operation costs to a minimum.

Retaining good driving talent is a must in this industry, and fleet owners and managers can help ensure to keep their drivers happy by listening to their concerns.

About the Author

Jade Brasher

Senior Editor Jade Brasher has covered vocational trucking and fleets for the past five years. A graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in journalism, Jade enjoys telling stories about the people behind the wheel and the intricate processes of the ever-evolving trucking industry.    

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