Truck driver jobs come with a good-bunch of benefits and incentives such as fuel savings and safe driving bonuses. CDL drivers also often get to meet and interact with new people at different times and places along their routes.
A U.S. truck driver can log 80,000 to 110,000 miles per year, considering the 11 hours-per-day FMCSA Hours of Service limit. So a trucking career can help truck drivers travel to distant destinations and have exciting experiences while at it.
And if you are a truck driver working with a great trucking company, the pay can be great too. Think up to $87,500 annually working as a Walmart truck driver But several truck driver challenges have remained unresolved for years now, according to annual reports by the American Truck Association (ATA). And that has made the trucking career a challenging one for many truckers.
Here are the top 5 truck driver challenges according to research, and more importantly, how to deal with them to make your job much more fulfilling going forward
Truck driver shortage leads to a chain of trucking jobs challenges
The truck driver shortage is a global concern. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released its annual trucking industry report in 2019. It showed that by the end of 2018, the U.S. had a truck driver shortage of 60,800. If left unfilled and unsolved, the figure would escalate to 175,000 by the year 2026.
Some of the contributing factors to qualified driver shortages include
- Low driver compensation despite a 15% increase in wages, it is still low at under $40,000 a year in the U.S.
- Exhausting working conditions
- Defeating regulations
- Retirement with inadequate replacement. The average age of a truck driver is over 47 years both in the U.S. and Europe, for example
And combinations of these trucking industry issues are fueling an incredible 94% rate of truck driver turnover, retaining a measly 6% drivers annually with big rig drivers leaving much faster than smaller carrier drivers
The Department of Transport through its FMCSA arm is piloting a program that could see 18-20-year-olds, women, and more minorities to join the trucking industry to bridge the gap. The ATA 2019 report showed drivers better pay packages. So truckload carrier companies can attract and retain the best CDL drivers if they can negotiate competitive rates.
While 51% of 2,000 motor carriers in the ATRI survey said driver shortages were their biggest concerns, 31% of commercial drivers respondents said driver compensation was the biggest headache. In the U.S Bonuses are dished out to drivers who fulfill a delivery as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, that sort of incentive can mean encouraging over-speeding, overloading, driving without rest breaks, and impatience during traffic congestions. All of those factors can lead to increased risk of getting involved or causing road accidents.
Technology can help. Smart drivers are turning to digital tools such as the Truckbook mobile app to find great trucking companies to work with, best-paying loads, and consistent gigs.
That way, they can earn higher wages, choose their favourite routes, and be home in time for family time.
Using TruckBook can also help you decide which reputable freight mover companies to drive for. For example, you can pick the ones that offer driver detention compensation so you can earn more per hour. Speaking of Hours of Service.
Long hours on the road (Hours of Service)
It is not uncommon to find truck drivers that have to make delivery hundreds of miles away within just 65 hours. That can mean driving defensively in different road and weather conditions for up to 11 hours without a short or long break.
Extended hours can translate to real concerns such as
- Irregular schedules
- Long time away from loved ones
- Missing vital health checkups
- Increased fatigue
- Increased risk of causing a road accident
Some truck drivers report being subjected to wage cuts for every hour they delay beyond the assigned time.
The 2019 revision of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation and ELD mandate proposed by the FMCSA could see drivers enjoy more HOS flexibility, higher rates, and decent sleeper berth resting.
Around the globe, truck drivers can use digital, mobile, and easy-to-use technologies such as Truckbook to find congestion-free routes in real-time and access roadside assistance to reduce wasted hours on the road.
Safety and health issues are major concerns, too.
In 2018, the U.S. NHTSA reported trucker fatalities rose to 885, with 4,678 more deaths occurring in the other vehicles involved in the accident—the highest number in 30 years. Degrading transport infrastructure. Driver distraction (sight problems and highway hypnosis). Fatigue.
These are some of the enormous difficulties drivers have to deal with when steering powerful 18-wheelers and speedy, smaller carriers.
Still, finding safe truck parking has been an issue for many drivers. That can mean having to break ELD and HOS rules to get to an available and safe truck parking.
Yet, breaking the rules can lead to fines and other consequences that can adversely affect a truck driver’s compensation, job security, and safety on throughways.
- Ensure regular vehicle inspection
- Be updated on weather conditions along your routes
- Use pro-level GPS
- Be extra-alert on noted most dangerous roads for truckers
- Enjoy maximum allowed rest times
In 2014, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOHS) reported that a concerning 63% of truck drivers were obese. Other health concerns drivers have included diabetes, eye problems, and insomnia.
Yet accessing healthcare along different routes is often a problem for these busy drivers. Long driving hours are usually the cause of the health concerns from highway hypnosis to sleep deprivation problems.
- Getting healthcare cover is vital
- Get health checkups soonest you experience symptoms
- Request for protective gear and trailers for hauling hazardous goods
- Replace junk with healthy snacks and meals when on the road or taking a break
Truckers are indeed the heroes of the global transportation sector. And while some of the challenges do require lengthy, legal procedures to come to be, some you can accomplish on your own as a truck driver. For example, you can take advantage of technology to locate safe truck parking.
You can also use accurate GPS to find shorter routes and avoid heavy traffic. Still, you can use easy to use technology such as TruckBook to connect with reputable freight companies that offer satisfactory trucking jobs to boost your income while driving fewer hours.