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In times of need and on the job every day, truckers step up

Sept. 14, 2018
Are truck drivers special? The evidence says yes. Verizon Connect found that almost nine out of 10 fleets—86%—say their drivers go above and beyond their job.

Are truck drivers special? The evidence says yes. Fleet management systems provider Verizon Connect found that almost nine out of 10 fleets—86%—say their drivers go above and beyond in their role. The company also noted best practices on how fleets reward drivers for excellent performance.

Verizon Connect gathered the info in a survey conducted last month ahead of Truck Driver Appreciation Week, getting responses from 400 of its customers. Many of them shared stories about drivers' exemplary service.

One of the things that stood out, noted Verizon Connect VP of Product Management Erin Cave, was not only tales of the extraordinary when truck drivers rose to the occasion but many accounts of them just doing more than they had to day-to-day on the job.

Fleets said drivers would help when they encountered other trucks and vehicles broken down. They'd take the time to deliver heavy items and equipment all around a job site instead of dropped off in one place to help save those workers time and trouble. They'd go out of their way to make emergency pick-ups at 4 a.m. on a weekend morning or work extra hours to help a customer move after they'd gotten keys too late.

"It has been heartwarming to hear how drivers go above and beyond on a daily basis," Cave said. "And we have been overwhelmed with stories of drivers saving lives and keeping communities connected." Out on the road sometimes when few others are and operating heavier vehicles than most every day, Verizon Connect customers also told of drivers in those extreme situations Cave referenced.

During a major 2016 flood, a survey respondent noted, several of its drivers worked through the night alongside police departments, first responders, fire departments, and electric companies to make sure hospitals, nursing homes, and government shelters stayed up and running.

In California, one driver helped a vehicle's passenger having a seizure, following the training his employer had offered for just that situation. The driver was credited for saving the person's life.

"These workers are fully committed to delivering for both their employers and for their customers, and we should make every effort to celebrate their hard work," said Cave.   

Truck drivers tend to be a true-blue breed. Verizon Connect also heard more on how fleets reward drivers and why, including the following:

What makes for a top driver? 

The most admired driver qualities fleets cited are dedication to customer service (63%), responsibility (58%), and self-dependence (48%).

How do you monitor for top performance among drivers? 

Survey respondents most often said they look for good customer feedback (69%), safety records (63%), and performance reviews (52%) to watch for excellent performance.

Do you think it's important to reward drivers? If so, why?

Just about all the survey participants said making sure drivers feel rewarded is important: 74% said that's a high priority in their organization, and another 25% said it's a medium priority.

The top reasons given for that include encouraging better customer service (71%), fostering a positive work environment (69%), and increasing retention (61%).

How do you usually reward drivers? 

The most common ways to reward drivers are probably just like you would want, including perks and something special. 

Monetary bonuses (60%), gift cards (43%), and experiences like getaways, special events and entertainment, and other fun things to do (36%) are the most popular ways survey respondents said they reward excellent driver performance.

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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