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Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry


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Is Truck Driver Pay the Answer to all Issues?

Nov
22,
2014
9
Truck Driver Pay

Truck Driver Pay

Professional CDL truck drivers have seen many changes over the past several years which have had a direct effect on their job abilities. From seemingly small changes such as the abolished use of cell phones ruling in 2011 to the larger Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program, extensive regulatory implementations continue to drive a large number of skilled, experienced truck drivers away from the vocation.

Many veteran drivers are ready to explain that the main reason they have chosen to leave their trucking career is due to the restrictions that these regulations place on them, preventing the opportunity to earn a livable wage. Industry professionals also voice their discernment over the effect that these growing regulations continue to stifle the industry as a whole, leading to the ever-continual truck driver shortage.

A large majority of professional truck drivers will agree that a simple solution to any such driver shortage would be to: “Focus on increasing driver pay, develop and implement cdl training standards for new driver entrants, either through federal or a state-to-state action, and to stop pushing drivers to violate federal regulations.”

However, problems faced by drivers on a regular basis, far exceed the three issues stated above:

  • Beyond the CSA and training standards, drivers are pushed to their limits via the Hours of Service (HOS) rules
  • In particular areas across the country, the ability to find a safe and secure place to park is not only problematic, but often life threatening
  • The soon-to-be ruling on the Electronic Logging Device (ELD’s) mandate which many drivers consider an invasive and harassing tool
  • The lifestyle which for many, result in poor driver health issues
  • The fight against the truck driver DAC report, used by many companies as a retaliation tool against drivers
  • The treatment of drivers by the shippers and receivers
  • The long periods of time away from home and family
  • The unethical recruiting tactics by many motor carriers

A list pertaining to the struggles and sacrifices faced by the professional truck driver is seemingly endless. While the idea is raised that increasing driver pay is certainly one avenue in maintaining an interest in the vocation, is it the only answer? As a driver facing all of the problems and issues within the industry, and looking down the road to the future of trucking, would receiving a good and decent pay raise be enough for you to remain in the career?

Is the amount of pay the complete answer to all truck driver issues? Would you as a driver, gladly continue receiving poor treatment from those shippers and receivers who hold no moral or ethical standards toward drivers, if your paycheck was big enough? Would you still be willing to face the health issues and being away from home for months at a time, if your paycheck was substantial?

Are you content in being forced to violate HOS and to accept forced dispatching and future regulatory restrictions, if your paycheck was big enough? Are you saying that you are more than willing in continuing to be spoken down to by dispatchers, shippers, receivers, law enforcement, the media and the general public, if only your paycheck was big enough?

The industry maintains its concern over a driver shortage and a possible solution to retaining drivers. Are drivers really saying that the amount of their paycheck is the only aspect preventing them from entering or remaining within the vocation?

If so, then the industry now has its answer in regards to all of these issues. If not, the industry needs to listen to the drivers’ greater concerns and reasons and come to address all of the issues at hand.

© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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9 Responses to Is Truck Driver Pay the Answer to all Issues?. - Post a Comment

  1. Matt O

    In regards to your list:

    Can you be more specific relating to the final item “unethical recruiting practices”. interested in seeing the option of OP regarding which tactics are unethical and why you would classify them as such.

    Secondly: do you have any hard data (emails/comments/anonymous entries) regarding the Invasive/harassing opinion of “many” drivers toward ELogs?

    Third: do you have any examples (anecdotes, testimonials, emails) of shipper/receiver poor CS?

    -Matt
    Analyst with vested interest in improving driver Quality of Life.

    P.S. these questions are in no way designed to question the journalistic integrity of the OP. They are only asked to get a broader picture of the trucking community as a whole.

    • Allen Smith

      Matt, The fact that you are unaware of what STILL goes on in the industry surprises me.You asked for hard data, I receive muxh, including emails, private messaging, and phone calls, HOWEVER, I thought I’d allow for some drivers to respond to this who are active on FB. I posted the article again with your comment on Social Media and asked for some to enlighten you.

      Here are some responses:

      M Rick Richards– Hmmm, I bet he can’t figure out why his turn over is so high…

      Jim Schnase -Yes how simple the high paying carriers have all the help they need & always will.

      Jake Harvey– Animals are treated better!! Shippers and receivers treat drivers with a tremendous amount of disrespect. The conditions we are forced to endure at some facilities are nothing short of outrageous. I was recently at a shipper that refused to let drivers use their bathroom however they had provided us with a portapotty … In the winter … In upstate New York … nothing like doing your business in an unlit portapotty in the middle of the night when it’s 30 degrees out and snowing. We are spoke down to by shipping and receiving agents, security guards, etc. If we comment on our negative treatment then they retaliate against you, making you wait or pushing you to the back of the line. We are rarely if ever provided adequate safe parking if any at all. Most shippers and receivers treat us as a necessity nuisance and nothing more. I’m already well paid to drive my truck but in my own personal opinion no amount of pay is justification for being treated like less than a human being and even though I’m retaliated against again and again I never fail to kindly let them know that I am a human being and deserve to be treated as one. I’d be willing to answer any and all the questions this guy wants to ask …

      M Rick Richards
      – I’ve noticed that the worst customers who tie us up the longest close their restrooms to drivers. It is usually after drivers tear them up in retaliation to being made to wait 5-10 hours to be loaded or unloaded. I’ve pointed this out to these customers as to why drivers do it. Yeah, they don’t like to hear that they are the cause of the drivers aggravations.

      John Imburgia– Just goes to show you how out of touch the industry is with the drivers. BTW, do you have any examples of unhappy drivers?

    • Allen Smith

      Another great reply from Social Media. Mike is a driver running for office

      Michael Harrington I? ?a?m? ?t?h?e? ?T?r?u?c?k?i?n?g? ?P?o?l?i?t?i?c?i?a?n?

      Pay is definitely good but is not everything.

      1) Driver Comfort
      This is a biggy… does the truck have a crappy bed? Is the seat bad? Are they getting rest or getting woke up a lot? How is the heat and air conditioning? Is it subpar but ‘operational’ or if he has instant fixes to bad issues affecting him.

      2) Routes
      Some people hate certain routes where they feel there is always issues, like NYC or Los Angeles. Make reasonable extra time for trouble spots and this issue will go down.

      3) Be understanding
      Sometimes shit happens. Today I found out they had updated my load but I never got the new email. 400 mile deteur. A little understanding that sometimes “oops” happens goes a long way.

      4) Fix the Shippers
      When I have to stand in a cold warehouse for an hour, then they start loading… that is BULLSHIT! A driver should not be in the warehouse at all in most of these cases. Drivers should get severe compensation when forced to do nothing in a warehouse but watch as a means to stop this practice. Say $100 an hour. In 3 months not a single shipper will fuck us like that anymore. I understand driver load/unload and such but not forcing us to stand for excessive times in a warehouse.

      5) Find flexibility in recievers. Perhaps if you big carriers pooled for “a missed delivery window backup” so that drivers wont miss a day for having to have chained up they wont be so frustrated.

      6) Say thank you
      Sometimes you ask us to pull miracles out of our ass and we perform. Make sure you appreciate those miracles!

      7) Screaming Fleet Managers
      Yes we hate these guys. Reduce screaming to vocal glare, glare less often.

      8) Get the repairs done!
      Some Fleet Managers think we can breath exhaust for a week “if it is a small amount” so the “loads can get done”. Some think an alignment issue is managable until the next major problem. No and NO! Fix them.

      TL;DR
      Stop being mean and pushy and think about our feelings.

    • Allen Smith

      Matt, As far as EOBR’S ( ELD’s) go, here are some replies I received when I asked the question on FB, ” Examples how EOBR’s are at times used to harass drivers. Are they really?” There will most likely be more coming in as I only posted this a few minutes ago.
      If you want to read them all, they’re on my personal FB page.

      Michael Harrington– My first employer I had three different fleet managers, my first had too large a fleet so I was transferred. The second was abusive and I nailed him with his abusive qualcomm messages by threatening to go to DOT and other agencies.
      I had a bad night. Three separate issues happened including the final an out trailer lights issue (fused.). No trailer lights at night is a guaranteed ticket if you do not stop at the first truck stop or repair shop. He PUNISHED me over the Qualcomm for stopping.

      This behavior was common where he would qualcomm me a lot if behind or in breakdown and if I did not reply he would call me! Even during rest periods.

      Once my reefer died just outside the Sparks Walmart. I ended up at the Thermoking repair shop in Reno and he harassed the hell out of me while I tried to get my legally required sleep.

      Another time I found I was 83,000 pounds gross on a 80,000 truck. This after driving 150 miles (bad pickup location). I requested instructions because I will not get a ticket I must pay. After some hours we got the broker to agree to pay the ticket if any of the three weigh scales on the route got me. None did so he got lucky… all closed. He got on the qualcomm in the morning and said he was suspending me with no loads for 5 days for not having just pushed.

      Edward Prince– Harassment has been going on before electronic logs. It’ll never stop.

      Jeff Barker Carriers can harass drivers with or without ELDs. If the carrier you drive for is screwing with your hours (as in falsifying your e-logs, it’s time to find a new job and hand them the keys.

      There is carriers who operate with a better level of integrity than others. I have been with one for over 8 years and they are very strict on compliance- whether a driver is running paper logs or using an ELD like I have been for over two years now.

      Candice L Johnson– Well we used to be at XXXXXX and I have a lot of friends still there. The way their equipment is set up when they send a message it beeps really loud though the speakers… if a driver is sleeping it wakes them up.. no matter the time of day …. and t…See More

      Jason George Cwach
      -Sounds to me like shippers, receivers, and companies are the problem. Need to just get rid of log books and the HOS. Put the responsibility of how much the driver drives a day in the drivers hands. If companies can’t push you and gives reasonable time to get from shipper to receiver, what would the elogs and HOS be needed for? Not that any of this really matters to me. Speed limiters are gonna be pushed down our throats soon anyway. I won’t be hauling cows at 55 mph max speed. Have to convert over to Australian road train setups to make any money at that speed.

      Josh Worthley
      – They woke me up the other day on my eobr telling me to send my arrived macro, i had been there all night and they bugged me for not sending my arrived even though i wasn’t due there yet.

  2. Rich

    To the gentleman, Matt, Offering a Sign on Bonus, High Salaries (over a period of time) Sending a driver to school for free are tactics Companies use to lure in driver’s thinking it will be a better life, then treating them like dirt, so that they will quit. Driver’s have reported TO ME how they made a dispatcher mad, and sat for 3 to 5 days, never heard in the add, if you make some one in the office mad they will starve you to death, Facts, over 100 % turn over rate on most companies offering these perks

    I have seen recording driver’s have made where the truck stopped because the driver was fatigued and could drive any further and were threatened into driving or be fired!

    Everyday, shippers and receivers treat driver’s like crap. They are quick to let you know, “we can sit you for hours” make driver’s pay for. unloading (lumpers) let driver’s sit in the yard, or worse yet make them park outside the property, Example Walmart! Many driver’s have many more! Anybody who does not know this is so totally alienated from the industry they shouldn’t be in it! the stats and DATA sit behind the wheel of a truck it happens any and everyday. Don’t ask the Suits in DC or the Mega carriers, they have looked at Driver’s as liabilities. They are worried about bottom lines, Funny thing is, They understand spending on Equipment to keep it running as the cost of doing business, putting under trained driver’s in seats, and paying for it through litigation! If they cared about the driver, the most important asset a company has, and spend 1/5 of what they spend in LOSS PAY, they would not only retain driver’s they would retain the very best driver’s, which makes Shippers and Receivers see the driver and the company in a more positive Light!

    • Allen Smith

      Thanks Richard,well said. I know you must have wanted to say even more….;)

  3. Allen Smith

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  4. LesWillis

    I would like to answer Matt concerning his question.

    1. Unethical Recruiting tactics
    This problem exists for many, many, reasons. First we must look
    at the Entry Level Driver and Obtain a reasonable assessment of
    the level of “Industry Knowledge” that the potential applicant has.
    Generally this level is below what most would say is Borderline
    “Dumbass”. Remember, You may only take advantage of
    Persons that are uninformed and ignorant to the real world of
    which they are about to enter. So you talk and assess where your
    Opening selling point will come. Aaahhhaaa there it is. “Sir I have
    been looking for a job for the last 6 months.I have bills piling up on
    the counter, Two girls in elementary school, one at home and one
    on the way. I lost my job because the Construction Co. I was
    working for ran out of work. My cousin used to drive a truck back
    in the late 70’s and 80’s and told me to check it out. What can
    you do for me and how much can I expect to make?”

    So now you have a choice. Do you take the ethical high road
    Here? Do you fill the mandated Quota given to you by your
    Recruiting Mgr.? Do you inform the gentleman of the Real World
    of Trucking? Do you tell him that your Company’s printed material
    Is False and a play on numbers? Or do you resort back to your
    training in Half Truths?

    These are some of the choices you must make too arrive at an
    Excellence in Ethical Standards. Will your choice of Standards be
    Company or Personal?

    Will you inform the individual of expected earnings Potential?

    “Average Median Income for Truck Drivers Today is 40k, here
    at Lie2U Trucking our Drivers average 55k per year.”

    Did you inform him that the 55k was an average of the top10
    Drivers that have 7 years OTR experience with 5 of those years
    within your Organization??

    Will you inform the individual of potential Truck Ownership?

    ” Your Income Potential could rise too 150k per year if you entered
    into our “Lease to Own Program” and become a successful O/O”

    Did you inform him of the average MPG of the unit he will be
    Purchasing and that Fuel, Maint., Repairs, Fuel/Mileage taxes,
    Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, Federal Income Tax, SSI Tax
    Would consume a Greater Portion of 150k than if he was just a
    Driver??
    Did you inform him that the Unit he will be purchasing has been
    Lease Purchased 3 times already this year by 3 other individuals
    in his same situation?

    Will you inform the Individual of Drivers average Home time?

    “Our Drivers make it home “on average” 3 days every 2 weeks”

    Did you inform him that the average was taken from a 12 month
    Period 3 years ago and that it included your Leased O/O whom
    have A No Forced Dispatch Policy in effect and average 10 days
    Per month at Home??

    Yes Matt– Ethics Matter in todays Transportation. Too many of
    Todays Trucking Company’s are Like Vultures too a dead
    carcass, all competing for the ill and uninformed individual who
    might be down on his luck.

    So now we arrive at The Ultimate Question.

    What about those two little girls in Elementary School ?

    As far as questions 2 and 3 of your inquiry.. everyone else has done a fine job in their responses and to comment on those in further detail would be counter productive.

  5. Matt O

    Thank you all that responded.

    This isn’t a case of out of touch its more I needed testimonials regarding the above topics as the only other data source I have is phone calls our drivers don’t email us directly pertaining to these topics they call and they are usually hot tempered when they do. which makes for a very difficult time when taking notes to relay up and down the poll.

    -Matt

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