What the drivers want

Sonia Straface

Earlier this week I attended my first Best Fleets to Drive For seminar.

For those who don’t know, Best Fleets to Drive For is a competition that highlights companies in the trucking industry that are going above and beyond for their employees with driver-focused programs. The hope is that the best practices that surface at the competition become commonplace in the industry to retain existing drivers and reach out to those who are flirting with the idea of driving professionally as a career option.

The seminar was upbeat, light, and informative (and most notably, free) thanks to the seminar’s speaker, Mark Murrell. Murrell is the co-founder (his partner is Jane Jazrawy) of the Truckload Carriers Association’s Best Fleets to Drive For competition. As co-founder he conducts countless interviews and surveys to get a better feel for what fleets are doing and what drivers want from their employers.

Being new to the world of trucking and transportation the seminars were an eye-opener since I’ve merely received a crash course on what’s going on in the industry (I’ve only been on the job for two months now). Most of my days as an assistant editor are spent talking to trucking company executives on the phone discussing what they see in the future for the industry and what they are doing to help move their company forward.

What I found the most interesting about the seminar is when Murrell discussed some of the (unedited) comments he received and read on the survey this year. Hearing what the industry needs from the drivers themselves, as opposed to an executive was a whole new kettle of fish for me.

Rather than the standard “agree/disagree” questions this year, the survey provided space for drivers to provide feedback and comment on what they wanted from their employer. Murrell said with this new survey enhancement, he received more than 500 pages of comments that he had to rifle through himself (he jokingly admitted to skimming a few of the ones with poor spelling and grammar). He shared a handful of the ones he thought were the most interesting with the attendees on a projection screen.  Here were a few of the suggestions that stuck out to me:

Lots of drivers were requesting pet/rider policies from their fleets.
This was something Murrell said they hadn’t seen in the past years. Of course, with the long drives away from their family and friends a driver can get pretty lonely. Having Fido come along for a trip would help the trips be more enjoyable and feel more like home.

Drivers also wanted assistance with eating healthier.
As many avid grocery shoppers know, eating healthy is not only difficult, but expensive. It’s understandable why drivers who are away from home for long periods of time would rather buy a burger off the dollar menu at a fast-food joint, than grocery shop for pricey vegetables and chicken that they then have to cook themselves. However, drivers said they would appreciate being helped with that cost so they can better themselves physically.

They wanted dash cameras to be used by everyone.
Drivers said that they wanted dash cams to be used to help and not as a punishment for those who are struggling. Implementing dash cameras across the board is what most drivers surveyed wanted to in order keep themselves and their fleets safe.

So now, I turn it over to you, the readers. What do you make of these suggestions? Do you agree with them, or have any of your own?

The half-day seminars are still running across Canada and are free to attend. To see if they are in a city near you click here. 

Sonia Straface

Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface.

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  • I’m finding it difficult to believe that two of those issues are at the top of any driver’s list of things they’d want.

    Having pets/riders is nice but many companies already allow this as long as waivers are signed so I’m not sure why this is even an issue that would be seen as a top concern.

    Dash cams are something that’s only come about recently and while some companies have installed them to monitor drivers, I seriously question that drivers as a whole would want more methods of surveillance over issues that would better serve them.

    Should companies be picking up the costs of meals, absolutely.
    Some like myself are fortunate to work for a company that does and kudos to those who do pay for their drivers’ expenses while they are technically, at work. Carriers too often forget, drivers even when the log book says ‘off duty’ but away from home are still in reality, at work because it’s not as if they can go to the kitchen and prepare themselves a proper nutritious meal 2 or 3 times a day.
    Living on the road where every load is a rush if you believe dispatch and time constraints are always an issue with the 14 or 16 hour daily windows to get your work in leads many to put their health second to getting the job done. When faced with the choice of eating quick, cheap, fast food take out because that ‘load’ has to get there in order to make money to live or, taking the more expensive route of eating a proper healthy but time consuming meal, history’s shown which avenue most take.
    If carriers and increasingly, government agencies want a driver pool that’s in good health, then they need to step up to the plate and participate financially as well.

    That said, I have to ask…

    Was there no mention of drivers being compensated for all of their time on duty? I can’t believe unpaid wait times or times spent at customers docks without compensation wasn’t a top issue.

    Was there no mention of the lack of overtime pay which most of the truckload carriers illegally withhold from highway drivers?

    Because for an industry that’s got their ‘blue ribbon panels’ studying drivers issues, you’d think they’d have heard loud and clearly, the biggest issue is, a serious lack of compensation.

    This isn’t the 1980’s… We’re living in 2014 but most are still offering pay rates from 20 plus years ago.

  • I really disagree with the finding of this so called survey. As a freight broker companies, who deals quiet a bit with owner operators, the main request of almost 100% of the drivers is to be home as much as possible. Most of the Big trucking companies do not have the agenda of working a bit harder to find the freight back close to drivers home. the Dispatchers in this companies are worried only for the next load, the next one. most of the drivers are complaining about the low pay, 35-40 cent a mile, while the big companies are charging the shippers more than 2 dollars a mile. That is most of the drivers complains!! almost any company in the US allowing pets, so clearly someone is misleading us. the real issues – Drivers want to be home more often, and be able to bring more money to the table. very simple. and by the way, bit more money – they will afford healthy food.

  • I have always been somewhat suspect of this program, as the company I work for places highly in the results, which I believe is more due to putting as much effort into having employees respond to the survey as they do implementing policies that make the a “Best Employer”.
    Now it seems that many of them must also “stuff” the voting also, as I can’t believe having a dash cam is something anything but a tiny percentage of drivers would be asking for. I believe the opposite to be true, that many drivers like myself who have many (25 + years) in the industry will decide to leave the industry if a dashcam shows up in the truck I drive.

  • Eating healthier is always the best option, and it is probably for the benefit of the company. Healthy drivers make more money than sick drivers. Having a dashboard camera and GPS tracking system, are another way of controlling (the costs of course).
    The issue is the payment the de deep culture that the trucking companies has, control the driver more, pay him less, get better results on the balance sheet.
    It is absolutely ridicules that a driver would make so little (30-40 CPM) while the companies are calculating more than a dollar a mile (After expenses).
    I am sure the drivers will be more effective if they know that the company is paying for healthy food and think about their health.
    Adding 10 dollars a for a healthy food – that is only 300 dollars a month for a trucker that is brining to the company over 24,000 USA – gross revenue. We need a bit more actions in the drivers favor 🙂

  • What a joke,who are you guys trying to fool.Pet policy and dash cams are top driver concerns?. yea right!.Try better compensation,more home time and dispatchers that value their drivers to start.I could go on and on about the shortcomings of most trucking companies but it would not accomplish anything they have been told enough already. They are not interested.Paying you waiting time after 2 hours,try telling that to your local plumber,when your toilet is plugged up and see how fast he gets there.
    These trucking companies that are crying driver shortages have no one to blame but themselves.You know how to remedy this situation,and if your not willing to do then shut the f–k up.
    Have a nice day!