The July, 2010 edition of Truckers News has a great article by Carolyn Magner and Misty Bell about the generation gap between the modern day truck drivers. Looking at trucking through the eyes of veteran road warriors versus the “newbie” truck driver, the article, “Clash of the Generations” gives an insight into how the two generations of truckers see each other.
The article also made me think about how long haul trucking has changed through the years and how this generation gap plays into the factor of any sort of truck driver shortage. Although there is no such thing as a truck driver shortage, the Truckers News article unknowingly touches on another facet of this newer face of trucking, one which trucking companies would be wise to pay attention to.
As with any new and upcoming generation, changes are expected to be made. The newer generation of workers today are more apt to get a college degree than prior, older generations that grew up in the belief of a blue-collar work force era. In relation to trucking, many of the newer young guns of the highways reject the fact that a professional truck driver must live out on the road for months on end. This is one reason trucking companies tend to experience a more difficult task of retaining truck drivers in their employment. In years past, the old dogs of trucking accepted the quality of life for truck drivers. As with any newer generation that is set in their own way of thinking, this quality of life will have to change in order to meet the newer demands of today’s younger drivers.
For the trucking industry to continue down the same old path of years past, they will discover that times are changing, like it or not. Many are beginning to understand that the old school of OTR trucking is just not cutting it with a newer generation of truckers. Some trucking companies are working to build more of a regional operation to meet the wants and demands of these young guns. For those companies who choose to stick to the old way of doing things, they will continue to fight the constant battle of truck driver retention.
Due to the hardships of the long haul trucker lifestyle, American truckers life expectancy drops by 15 years, compared to the rest of the work force. Many of the up and coming newbie drivers believe that their quality of life and having a life, is more important than running themselves into the ground for an industry that shows no care or remorse for doing so.
Even as I write, veteran truck drivers are struggling with paying their bills and keeping food on the table for their families . . . many owner operators caught in the company lease programs are not getting enough miles to meet their truck payment . . . professional truckers face newer and tougher regulations, always aiming at their pocketbooks . . . and recent CDL graduates are running all 48 states for as little as .13 cents per mile. This is the old school . . .
Perhaps the newer breed of young guns truckers have it right . . . work smarter, not harder and still have a life to enjoy.
© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.