3 min read

How to Address the Real Reason Behind the Driver Exodus

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The driver shortage has been a hot topic in the trucking industry for a while now. But what if it’s less of a driver shortage and more of the simple fact that people no longer want to work in the industry?

In this episode, co-hosts Flint Holbrook, President of TruckSpy, and Nic Cain, Account Executive at TruckSpy, discuss the issue and potential ways to solve it. 

Join us as we discuss:

  • The reason behind the mass exodus of drivers
  • How to fix systemic problems in the industry 
  • Alternatives to regulation when implementing new technologies
  • Is trucking a commodity service or something more?

The reason behind the mass exodus of drivers

If the lack of drivers in the industry is less of a shortage and more of an exodus, it begs the question: Why are drivers leaving? Nic and Flint share some top reasons:

  1. Driver requirements have increased
  2. Incentives haven’t increased
  3. The respect for the profession has decreased
  4. No progress made towards helping keep drivers safe legally
  5. High danger risk

It quickly becomes clear that instead of focusing attention on bringing drivers back to the industry, carriers need to shift to retaining the drivers they have. 

“You have all of the regulations. You have all of the unpaid waiting time. You have all the bad parts and none of the good parts of driving a truck.

— Flint Holbrook

 

The continual issue of dwell time 

An issue that almost every carrier deals with, dwell time is at the top of the list when it comes to driver frustration. If a driver is spending 6-8 hours to pick up a load, all while unpaid, it’s easy to see why drivers are furious. 

But where does the fix take place? Instead of placing the blame on specific carriers, Nic and Flint suggest it could be more of an industry-wide systemic problem. 

 

Ways to fix systemic problems in the industry

There are many examples of why these driver issues must be dealt with systemically. One such example: Think of before the COVID-19 pandemic when you couldn’t buy some specific product because of supply chain issues. Those issues have only increased after the pandemic. 

 

Creating a baseline

One big example of systemic disarray: The battle between big and small companies. While small companies try to grow and become profitable, they undercut the big companies that have to charge a higher rate. 

As a result, the larger carriers lose profit to the cheaper smaller carriers, but because the small carriers tend to ignore safety, one accident can dismantle the organization — Leading to a race to the bottom for carriers of all sizes. 

By creating a baseline for all carriers, it could eliminate the vicious cycle. But should the government be responsible for enacting the change?

 

Alternatives to regulation when implementing new technologies

If carriers can’t wait for the government to step in, what else can be done? Regulation is not the only answer to fixing the issue with the industry. Nic and Flint suggest advocating for the new technology emerging in the market. 

“Whether it be safety, operations, management, or sales, there's an app for that.

— Nic Cain

 

Getting drivers on board

While technology can absolutely benefit any carrier, it’s important to remember to bring drivers along for that journey. Don’t just expect drivers to welcome the change without a clear understanding of how the technology will benefit their position. 

Otherwise, it will just feel like another task on their plate — And when they’re already frustrated with low pay and high responsibility, this won’t help anything. 

 

Is trucking a commodity service or something more?

If your organization is fortunate enough to bring in new driver talent, how picky should a carrier be with the kind of person they hire? While it would be easy to say any driver can fit into any driving role, Flint and Nic warn against this idea.

Not every carrier exists in the same market. With some in agriculture and some in food delivery, not finding your niche and investing in driver training can be the downfall of your organization. 

“If you want to differentiate yourself with your shippers and customers, invest in your drivers and represent your brand in the best way possible.”

— Nic Cain

 


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