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Is the Driver Shortage creating negligent hiring among carriers?

Dec
20,
2013
6
Losing Qualified Drivers

Losing Qualified Drivers

Being active in Social Media is time consuming, but the ability to share information with one another creates great benefits for all of us.
While reading a thread on LinkedIn, I was going through a lot of the comments in the following thread:
Do you believe that the increasing driver shortage is leading to greater instances of negligent hiring among carriers?”

As you read the comments in the thread (and there are many), you will see that many understand the perceived driver shortage.

The LinkedIn thread created a spark to discuss many facets which contribute to the “driver shortage” and I decided to make my comment from the thread into a post here.

Is the Driver Shortage creating negligent hiring among carriers?

I don’t feel that the carriers are necessarily more negligent but rather more desperate.  Veteran drivers are leaving the industry and the ability to replace these drivers with qualified drivers who are willing to work 70- 80 hours per week with minimal pay and incentives are dwindling.

There are also drivers out there willing to work but because of their blemished PSP or a wrongful DAC report, are not being hired. I wonder if this is also negligence. Many times these drivers have received violations because of mechanical failures that they have reported, but were dismissed/ignored by the carrier and told to move on with it. Others have points because of HOS violations (forced dispatch) or a not at fault accident. Others have untruthful info on their DAC. Just today I received a call from a driver who cannot find employment because he has too many overweight violations. When asked why so many, he replied, “you know how it is, they tell you to take it anyway.”
So I ask, where is the negligence? Is the industry responsible for the so called driver shortage?

BTW, yes, the enforcement of CSA is a factor when hiring.

So again, where is the negligence/desperation?  Hiring drivers with clean PSP’s but too new to the industry (inexperience)? Not employing proper background checks? Not checking the nature of the PSP violations or DAC report and therefore missing out on a good candidate? Or is it continuing the same practices which force drivers in a compromised position, receiving violations against their PSP, creating an even greater “shortage” of industry created “unqualified” drivers.

“Driver Shortage”, Turnover, and Retention

The day and age of driving being glamorous is over as well as the generation who accepted great sacrifice as part of the job. Compensation and gratification are now expected.

A–Let’s first discuss the ENTRY LEVEL “qualified” driver, the highest turnover and lowest retention rate of them all.
1)  Many of these people entering the industry are desperate also, looking for a “job” that will support their families. This statement addresses the often outdated comment, “they chose the profession so deal with it.” It’s not necessarily their willing or first choice.

Many are told they will make between 40k-50k their first year, not so.
Again, they initially may have no great desire for driving a truck, but rather saw it as a compensated sacrifice to provide for their families.  When they realize that many of the hours they put in are not paid (example: retention time pay, pre & post trip inspections, waiting for loads, etc) and then do the math, the sacrifice is no longer worth it…. NOT ENOUGH REWARD.   The 1st year take home pay of approx. 300-500/wk for70- 80 hours.  PLUS, living in a truck, being away from their families, dealing with dispatch, HOS, lack of truck parking, loneliness, no idling laws ( without an APU or TSE authorization), DAC reports, no PDO’s, vacation time …..  you begin to see the bigger picture.

2)  CDL Training: This is another major reason for 1st year turnover.  The poor training in both the schools and then the new graduate company training is a major factor.  New graduates are nowhere near ready to drive solo and many of the company trainers have less than a year experience themselves, (some less than 6 months).  I would like to see some accident stats for entry level drivers (less than 1 year), I can’t find ANY anywhere.
Because of the enforcement of CSA, many new drivers are terminated early on because of violations or accidents for fear of carrier CSA points.

Everything you have came by truck

Everything you have came by truck

BTW, the implementation of Simulators in addition to conventional school training is an excellent idea, something we have been suggesting for over a year now.  They offer the experience before they get in the truck and will test students and evaluate weaknesses to focus on during their remaining school training. (Pinnacle Truck Driver Training is doing this and I’m sure there are more.)

B—  Experienced Driver
1) Those who do make it a year, hoping that their year of “paying their dues” will pay off, start to question their choice. Many are still making low wages.
Note:  Truck driver wages have not gone up in 20 years. Twenty years ago .38 cpm was an acceptable wage, is it still? How much has your cost of living gone up in 20 years?  Can you call in sick and get paid?  If you’re asked to sit at your desk until work comes in, do you expect to be paid while you wait? If the heat is turned off when it’s 20 degrees are you expected to still work (let alone sleep)? How about vacation pay, do you receive it?

We’re not talking about just taking a pay cut, we’re talking about lifestyle sacrifices with a pay cut.
So starts the job hopping, looking for that company who will “do it better”.  The recruiting ads promise a better job, but many times they are not. The lifestyle is the same and so is the compensation.
2)  Empathy - Management and dispatchers who understand what the driver is going through. Many under-estimate the importance of this and don’t even consider it. However, I know many drivers who just left a truck and threw in the towel because of the final straw “of a bad day”.  If a driver is having a bad day (problems at home, a toothache, equipment, inspection, whatever it is) a display of compassion and respect may be the answer.
Sometimes the freight is not always priority.  Just as mechanical failures happen, so is the possibility of driver breakdown, and should be addressed and treated equally.

Solutions?  Ask yourself, what do drivers/people want from a driving career in this day and age?
1) Realistic expectations of what the job and lifestyle is, including 1st year pay.  This would reduce turnover dramatically.
2) Paying drivers for their time, not just their miles.
3) Wages and benefits which is acceptable to the sacrifices of the job
4) Respect
5) Support their issues they face while OTR:  Lack of Parking, Illness, cab comfort (heat and air condition, when not idling), personal problems.

I wonder if there were greater transparency, respect, and if all the resources spent on recruiting could be used for driver compensation, would it remedy the driver shortage, lower turnover, and improve retention?

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 34 year veteran ( started at an early age in family moving business) of the trucking industry, many of those years spent over the road. He has been an owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and has owned and operated a moving company, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. One thing though that most will say is that the reason and motivation behind the author, Allen Smith, is the fact he is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. As you read many of the blog posts you’ll discover that he is opinionated and speaks openly about the ongoing issues of the trucking industry. He supports other fellow advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who are in need of honesty, guidance and direction. The list of supporters and like minded people grows daily and their ability to network together and share their thoughts and ideas for the betterment of others within trucking, has allowed the forward movement of... "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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6 Responses to Is the Driver Shortage creating negligent hiring among carriers?. - Post a Comment

  1. Regguy

    Hmmmm seems Ive heard this some where else 2 years ago, I’m better that Miss Chloe!

    • Allen Smith

      Thanks Rich, I know!!
      If you do a search on this website for truck driver shortage, cdl training, CSA, or anything related, you ‘ll probably see this said all different ways. I think eventually they’ll get it. ( But when will they finally apply it to the problem?)

  2. Rob Jay

    Driver shortage this … Driver shortage that … I’m laughin’ myself silly every time I hear it.

    Yer’ Mom ever tell you …. ” You made your bed, now sleep in it ” ?

    Well, the Gummint, ATA + mega-carriers made their bed and now they want us to sleep in the bed they made by footing the bill for them.

    The CDL was absolutely the worst thing that ever happened to trucking …. it did nothing but ‘ Devalue ‘ a good drivers experience and give mega-carriers a easy method of blackballing.

    You’re likely asking … ‘ What does he mean with now they want us to foot the bill ‘.

    Ya’ know all those Illegal Aliens running amuck that Uncle Sam is chompin’ at the bit to Legalize … well, there’s your warm butts for a cold seat.

    Yep’, we Americans will foot the bill via Amnesty …. those drivers will go to CDL Skrewl on my dime …. the industry at that point has no reason whatsoever to bring the payscale back to what it was and at that point, even more good, experienced American drivers will leave the industry.

    Anyone who believes that dime-a-dozen drivers from south of the border hasn’t been the Plan all along is simply fooling themselves.

  3. jeff clark

    Is all of the above an option?

  4. Jeff Clark

    I think you are asking the question backwards. Is negligent hiring creating the driver shortage?

    • Allen Smith

      The original title was a thread on LinkedIn that made a lot of people think. I believe that both statements are true, they feed off of one another and continue the cycle of low retention and high turnover.

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