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Top Four Reasons Qualified Truck Drivers Call It Quits

Losing Qualified Drivers

Losing Qualified Drivers

For the past thirty years, the turnover rate among truck drivers and the problems associated with motor carriers retaining drivers have been studied by the industry.

Over a span of at least three decades, the second largest industry in the nation has been unable to figure out the reasons why experienced, veteran truck drivers are quitting the vocation.

Today, the problem has worsened as more career CDL drivers are calling it quits and never looking back. The industry likes to refer to this as a truck driver shortage, just as they have done in the past.

In reality, the most common complaints by drivers today are still the most common of past decades:

  1. Low pay
  2. Not paid for work performed
  3. Lack of home time
  4. Over-Regulations

Low pay for truck drivers have been a major issue for years which began to creep into the business after the deregulation of the industry. Over time, it has become the top reason for all categories of drivers choosing to leave the profession. The average yearly pay of $34,000 is simply not seen as being enough to counter all the demands of the over-the-road trucking career.

Not paid for work performed such as detention time and various other so-called duties, have pushed many drivers into finally hanging up their commercial license and moving on to another position outside of professional truck driving. When, for example, a driver waits for seven hours to get loaded or unloaded and never receives the $15 per hour detention pay, $105 is a lot to be lost. Have this done several times in a month and one can see that the driver’s time is considered meaningless by the industry.

Lack of home time is a rather difficult reason for quitting, but nevertheless, is one of the top four reasons given by drivers. The mere term, long-haul trucking, signifies that home time is going to be minimal. As this job requires being gone for weeks and months at a time, the problem for the driver has more to do with downtime while out on the road, than it has with any other aspect. If the carrier is going to make the driver sit for three or four days without getting paid, they can at least have him or her sit at home. Failure by the carrier to fulfill the driver’s home time request is the main reason why drivers list this as the cause for hanging up their CDL’s.

Regulations throughout the industry continue to make the life of the professional trucker more difficult, cutting further into their ability to earn a livable wage. As an example, there are millions of truck drivers across the United States and all are different in their backgrounds, yet they are all expected to operate under the same hours of service rules: when they can drive, when they can sleep, etc. One single rule does not fit all parties involved and because of this and other regulatory factors such as the CSA, the industry is losing long-time, experienced veteran drivers and thus losing a significant level of professionalism and safety.

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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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14 Responses to Top Four Reasons Qualified Truck Drivers Call It Quits. - Post a Comment

  1. Rod Hannifey

    Goodaye Allen, as an Australian interstate truckie, I have always looked to the USA believing truckers there were better respected by the public for the job they do. The major truck shows, Highway Angels and other things I see as positive, while we simply do not have that level of community support I thought you had. We have the same problems here with both an ageing population and a mining boom that has taken many drivers off the road who are simply sick of being harassed by authorities, being fined for errors that have no impact whatsoever on safety, by the press, being continually blamed for all deaths and crashes involving trucks when the majority are the fault of the car driver as your figures mirror and by the public who then treat us with contempt on the road.

    We now have a government “Safe Rates” Tribunal that is aimed at removing at least the pressure to break the law and ensuring a fair return, but this is new and will take some time to work and of course, it may not do all we might like and could have other ramifications. We finally have a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, bringing most states, bar one into play with one set of rules across Australia and we hope this will be a major leap forward, but again, how this will impact on drivers on the road is yet to be seen.

    The roads are not as good as yours, the shortage of rest areas and facilities, lack of toilets and shade, let alone good food with many closing at 10PM and a major fuel chain shutting ALL of its truck stops are simply more issues making drivers look for a simpler, safer and more humane way of life. I was very surprised at the low wages and like you, all we want is to be paid for what we do and if we were, we would not have a shortage, nor be bringing untrained drivers into the industry and onto the road which is making things worse again. I wish you success with the bill before the senate forcing drivers to be paid if held at DC’s and would hope it will follow here and congratulate the family behind Jason’s Law and hope truckers there get some more and better facilities. Safe Traveling, Rod Hannifey.

    • Allen Smith

      Hi Rod: Always good to hear from our fellow International trucker friends. Thanks for the well-wishes and same to you. Great site you have and quite an impressive rig!

    • Wayne Foutz

      Rod, it sounds like you all have the same level of respect we do. As a whole, we are treated like dirt. Shippers and receivers that won’t let us use their toilets, the general public driving around us as if we were inanimate objects, the government constantly changing the regulations, lawyers and law enforcement always blame the truck driver first. I’ve had one accident, the old man in the minivan blew through a stop sign into the path of my truck. I had no stop sign. I had to stand around for hours as the DOT officers poured over every inch of my truck, and went through my log books. Then I was whisked away to the hospital to get drug tested. This was after they got statements from over a dozen witnesses who said I did nothing wrong.

  2. Rashid Abdul-Ghani

    The trucking company I worked for treated it’s new drivers as if they were indentured servants. You could not track your pay very well. Trailers always needed repair and the driver utilized his own time in taking the trailer to the shop. The dispatcher continually tried to persuade the driver to violate regulations, mostly hours of service and overweight issues. It was a bad experience! Yet, I would have remained if I could have accurately determined what my pay would be each week, impossible. And this proved to be the worst part of the experience. The trucking company thought all drivers were desperate and could not quit. A job at Mcdonald’s, working 32 hours per week would have been a better opportunity. Because your pay is consistent and the hours are much shorter. I will not drive again!

    • Allen Smith

      Hi Rashid: Unfortunately, yours is an all too common experience but with experience and a good record, there still are good companies out there who have fine reputations. The industry has this mindset of making drivers “pay their dues” … main reason newcomers leave the industry within six months. Hope everything works out for you and thanks for posting.

    • Rashid Abdul-Ghani

      Thanks Allen! But, get this. When the company knew I was going to resign, they would not let me return to the terminal. The dispatchers kept me out there for several days hoping I would change my mind. At the end the final straw was when I picked up a load in Colorado near Denver and had to deliver to Temple, TX. My load was over weight and the shipper made me dock for 10 hours before they took part of the weight off. I left and hope by burning fuel I would get my weight down. The dispatchers knew I was running over hours because they asked me if I would make it. I got to Temple and they still would not let me return to the terminal. I had to pick up a load in Waco. I was dead tired but, I did it. The next morning the supervisor begged me not to quit. I just told him I had medical problems and had to resign. I knew it was futile to complain. Yeah, Allen, I expected to pay some dues as a rookie but,the treatment was horrible. All of the worthwhile information I needed to get into trucking I got from reading articles on your website and listening to your programs. Thank you and thanks for listening!

    • Allen Smith

      Thanks Rashid: hate to hear it but it is common practice in the industry as you well know by now. Whatever you end up doing, I wish you the best!

    • Wayne Foutz

      My first job was back in 1998, It was awful. 22 cents a mile, 1500-1800 miles a week, and I didn’t see my family for over six months. I was making about $300 a week, I was making twice that driving taxi cabs before my trucking career. I had enough banked before I made the leap where I could stick it out though. I couldn’t imagine trying to live off of what they were paying me. Once I paid my dues, I got on with a large company with a good safety culture, and my pay tripled. Whenever someone asks me about getting into this business, I warn them the first year is a tough one, most drivers don’t make it all the way through.

  3. Billy Venable II

    “greenhorns” and experienced drivers alike are always being treated the same way out here each and every day. I have been driving for 10 almost 11 years now. I have been with this same company for 3 years buying a truck from there. That is why I have found it hard to leave. But I know that I have to seeing as I have not had a check AT ALL since October 27, 2012. I live off of $50-$200 a week advances that I have to damn near beg for and they still expect me to pay for tolls, scales, and lights and things like that out of it and still survive. Dispatchers have become so scared to demand detention pay, owners are doing less and less to ensure that their safety rating will increase, and then want to get rid of the drivers that are the reason their safety ratings are not worse. We get no respect from DOT or law enforcement, especially in California where if we go 62 mph we get pulled over and damn near raped by them, but a cop can pass you doing 80 with a car passing them doing 120 and the cop will barely even look at them. Then we have some power hunger idiots that know nothing about the trucking industry start FORCING suggestions to further restrict our HOS. You take what we make out here and divide it by the hours we spend on the road, and we make LESS than a waitress BEFORE tips. That is why we seasoned and veteran and SAFE ACCIDENT FREE drivers are leaving. They say it will get worse before it gets better, but as long as that Communist is in the White House, it will never be better for us.

  4. Rick McNeil

    I agree with driver pay being to low also with not being paid for work done. the regulations are getting out of hand. I also think one of the factors drivers are leaving is the speed of trucks. You drive all day and half the night and can’t even do the speed limit. I know its a fuel mileage game these days. But if they can gear a truck to get 7mpg at 64 mph they can also gear that same truck to get 7mpg at 70mph. I have asked people in the office have they ever gone on vacation and driven very far at 64mph the true answer is always no. they couldnt do it. We are a traffic hazard out on the roads running so slow.

  5. Sheri Sautter

    Allen, you nailed it!!

  6. Anne

    My father-in-law was a trucker and the low pay and lack of time at home were two factors that caused him to leave. Also, he got little or no sleep and the family was worried about an accident. Sleep time never seems to get factored into the job.

  7. Dave T.

    Being a trucker in today’s economy is tough, more then ever. Low start out pay deters a lot of potential trucking prospects. And also being away from your loved ones for extended periods of time really does damage on the immediate family.

  8. Danney Wright

    I have been driving for 30 years and everything was fine until the federal government took over then it all WENT TO HELL. They are the ones destroying the trucking industry with the stupidity and nonsense. I am through with trucking bullshit!!!!!!!!!!

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