Year after year, drivers are at the center of persistent U.S. trucking industry challenges according to the ATRI critical issues survey. In 2021, for the fifth year in a row, the industry’s number one critical issue was the truck driver shortage. Driver retention was at number two (up from fourth place in 2020), and driver compensation ranked four.
With the most persistent trucking industry problems related to professional drivers, one thing is certain: to overcome current challenges in transportation, fleets need to reorient their businesses toward solving problems faced by truck drivers. By offering top driver pay, optimizing driver workflows, and boosting professional development, fleets can stabilize their operations and move the industry forward. Here are the top driver concerns to focus on in 2022.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 5 Driver Concerns 2022
- 1.1 Driver Compensation
- 1.2 Detention / Delay at Customer Facilities
- 1.3 Fuel Prices
- 1.4 Driver Training Standards
- 1.5 Hours-of-Service Rules
- 2 Final Thoughts
Top 5 Driver Concerns 2022
These are the five issues listed by professional drivers as critical in the most recent ATRI survey, and how fleets can help.
This is a perennial issue because driver pay hasn’t kept pace with economic growth. Today’s drivers make 40 percent less than their counterparts did in the 1970s. The good news is that modest increases in driver pay produce big rewards. In a November 2021 study, researchers found that the average salary range of commercial drivers who stayed on the job in 2018 was only six percent higher annually ($2,836 more per year) than drivers who churned.
With the average cost of replacing a professional driver at roughly $3,600–including testing fees, signing bonuses, and training costs–fleets that boost driver compensation in 2022 have the opportunity to not only reduce their bottom line, but also attract more drivers and increase retention.
(1.) Truck Parking (This issue tied with driver compensation for first place.)
According to the 2019 Jason’s Law Report, there are approximately 313,000 parking spaces to accommodate more than three million U.S. truck drivers. Over the past decade, this issue has gotten progressively worse. Today, it costs drivers an average of $5,550 or 12 percent of their annual income. And it impacts productivity–drivers lose approximately one hour of driving time per day because they park early to ensure they get a parking spot.
To combat this challenge, some states have deployed real-time parking information apps and digital roadside message signs that list available parking slots. Fleets that want to alleviate driver parking issues in 2022 should advocate for states to expand the availability of this real-time parking information and the creation of more parking spots.
Detention / Delay at Customer Facilities
Ideally, drivers follow routes and delivery times that are planned to the minute. Every delay reduces a driver’s ability to meet their goals. Long haul truck drivers in the U.S. are allowed to drive for 11 hours in a 24 hour period. However, due to delays, they spend only 6.5 hours driving, which leaves 40 percent of U.S. trucking capacity on the table.
To solve this issue, fleets should consider using a fleet management system that includes predictive analysis and automation. For example, Netradyne’s fleet solution provides an intuitive dashboard that helps fleet managers optimize routes and ensure drivers are prepared for any potential delays.
Although fuel prices were expected to fall in 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the energy market. For the foreseeable future, drivers will need fleets to take a proactive approach to helping them increase fuel efficiency to keep costs low.
By using an advanced telematics system that provides advanced vision-based driving data, fleets can help optimize routes to reduce fuel costs. Incorporating vehicle sensors that track driver behavior, like speeding, these systems provide drivers with critical data about the unseen variables that contribute to fuel waste. As a result, drivers can modify their behavior to lower the total cost of deliveries.
(3.) Lawsuit Abuse Reform (This issue tied with fuel prices for fourth place.)
While lawsuit abuse isn’t a top story in the news, in recent years fraud has become rampant, significantly increasing driver insurance rates. Some states have worked to pass laws that stop abuse, which has recently resulted in several favorable wins for the trucking industry.
Until more laws are passed, innovative fleets need to step up education efforts so that drivers and local law enforcement are able to identify staged accidents. They should also advocate for tougher legislation to make staging an accident a criminal offense.
Driver Training Standards
On February 7 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented new entry-level driver training requirements which make obtaining a Class A or Class B CDL, as well as hazardous materials endorsement, more detailed and time-consuming. Many drivers are confused about rules and where to get certified.
This year, fleets should develop a game plan for eliminating driver confusion by setting clear expectations and providing driver training resources to minimize certification delays.
Drivers have expressed widespread confusion about the FMCSA’s new Hours of Service (HOS) rules. In 2021 survey by J. J. Keller Center for Market Insights, only 40 percent of respondents claimed to have a solid understanding of the rules and their impact. The survey noted that the top challenge was related to which rules applied to which drivers and which vehicles.
To reduce confusion about HOS rules, fleets should provide driver training sessions. Additionally, fleets can ensure compliance by using an advanced, reliable fleet telematics system like Netradyne Driveri. Fleet compliance managers can use Netradyne’s innovative reporting tool to review Hours of Service, real-time driving status, and more.
Between 2020 and 2050, the Department of Transportation forecasts U.S. freight activity will grow by 50 percent to 28.7 billion tons. If fleets want to overcome trouble with transporters and meet this demand, they need to make a game plan. Instead of asking “why is there a shortage of professional truck drivers?,” fleets should design a driver-centric culture and take a proactive approach to solving the issue. Doing so will enable them to overcome the driver shortage, improve driver retention, lower insurance costs, and avoid delays.