Over the road trucking is a hard, rough existence. The general public just doesn’t understand the reality of the trucking life. People watch as the big rigs pull out onto the road ways and head off to some destination known only to the professional behind the wheel. The life of freedom! No boss looking over your shoulder, and endless hours of traveling the country, enjoying the sightseeing aspect all along the way! The general public could not be so wrong.
For most of the professionals in OTR truck driving, there is a constant, daily battle to be fought every day, never mind the weeks and sometimes months that go by without seeing their families. Forget about sleeping in your own bed every night or just relaxing and watching a little television. Don’t think about having to eat out every day and showering in a truck stop. Give no thought to the fact that the American trucker runs down the road fighting overcrowded streets on very little sleep, and is simply trying to do what we all are attempting to do: make a living.
The general public’s attitude for the most part, is that these trucks are a nuisance. I wish just once, that the truckers would come together and shut down for a week. Let the gasoline supply go dry . . . let the grocery store shelves turn empty . . . let the retail stores have nothing to sell . . . let the restaurants be without food. It would not even have to be a week. Within three to four days the United States of America would look like a third world country. The general public would be crying, “Bring back our truckers!” Fortunately, America’s truckers are too compassionate to allow this to happen, but for them, I wish just once . . .
The saddest part of all, however, is not the ways of the general public. The professionals in the trucking industry come under attack by someone you would not even consider: their own employer. These are the trucking companies that brutalize these men and women on a daily basis. They will push them to run harder to get the freight to where it needs to be. And, as the truckers fulfill their duty, they receive no more benefit or compensation for their valiant effort. After running nonstop to make the delivery on time, their employer may now make them “sit” for two days, thus losing any extra miles they would have received. They are exploited constantly, and these exploitations are hidden in well disguised ad campaigns and perhaps simple bonus programs such as being “awarded” with a company jacket!
Over the road truck driving jobs pay by the mile. The average at present is around .32 cents per mile. If a driver is not moving, they are not making any money. The average pay for an owner operator is roughly .96 cents per mile. Just so the trucking companies know, you cannot make ANY MONEY working for .96 cents per mile! But, then again, they already know this. Truck drivers want to drive. Truck drivers want miles. The #1 exploitation toward truck drivers lies with the trucking companies. They will promise miles, but then never deliver. They will give you just enough miles to keep you hanging on, but that is all the drivers are doing. Their only concern is the freight. These trucking companies are too ignorant to understand that without the driver, they have no company.
Driver retention is a major problem in trucking today. The average turnover rate today sits at nearly 125%. There is one company that has a driver retention problem of 200%! The intellectuals that run the company can’t figure out why. I can help! Do you want to lower your retention problem? Here is a suggestion for you: GIVE THEM MILES! Also, don’t just give them miles, but treat them with respect. Respect . . . another issue. Of course, I understand why the retention problem exist. There is more to the story. Sadly, many drivers are not aware of the “why.”
These drivers that have chosen truck driving careers take pride in their work and profession. Without them, our country and even the world as we know it, would crash. As you put in your 8-5 job and head home for the evening . . . as you wrap up your five-day work week and enjoy your weekend off . . . remember the American trucker that is still out there . . . running . . . getting all of the items delivered, so when you go to the store with your family, those items will be on the shelves. Because even though the trucking companies continue to exploit their own drivers, these same drivers will still complete their mission. It’s their pride. It’s in their blood.
About the author :
Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran over the road trucker with 29 years of experience in the trucking industry and is an expert in areas of transportation. For more information, please visit the Truth About Trucking.