What are trucking companies doing to solve the driver shortage?

Last week’s Truck World event at the International Centre in Toronto was a great opportunity to connect with old friends and get updated on the state of the freight transportation industry. It was clear from the huge attendance at the show that is a very good year to be in trucking. The negotiating leverage has clearly swung over to the carrier side. Shippers are being told to accept rate increases or risk losing their truck capacity to other manufacturers and distributors.

One trucking company owner summed up the state of the industry this way. The industry is facing four problems: drivers, drivers, drivers, and drivers. This caused me to reflect on what various trucking companies are doing to address this issue.

Signing Bonuses

Companies are offering from $2000 to $10,000 bonuses to experienced (one year plus) drivers.

Orientation Pay

During orientation, one company pays $1,000 to first-week solo drivers and another $1,000 the second week. The company also provides drivers with meals, a rental car for their comfort and convenience (in specific locations) and a single hotel room.

Base Pay

Truck drivers are being offered $0.50 per mile and up as base pay. In one company the pay program for linehaul drivers provides a guaranteed weekly gross minimum pay determined by their pay bracket. Drivers who earn 46-50 cents per mile are guaranteed $1,000 per week; those who earn 52 and 53 cents per mile are guaranteed $1,100 per week; and drivers earning 54-56 cents per mile are guaranteed $1,200 per week. In addition to the guaranteed weekly pay, the company prorates holiday weeks.

Pay Increases

Drivers at all experience levels can receive pay raises with as little as three months’ experience (a 2¢ per mile raise) to those with two years or more (a 5¢ per mile raise).

Lifestyle Enhancements

Some companies will allow their drivers to bring along riders and pets, offer in-cab DirecTV, and/or they guarantee they will be home 3 of every 4 weekends. Performance Bonuses Pay for performance bonuses are available in some companies and are based on achieving certain safety, fuel economy, miles driven, and/or on-time delivery KPIs. They may be paid monthly or quarterly.


A variety of benefits are being made available including low cost medical, life, dental, and disability insurance, a 401K (RRSP in Canada) with company match, direct deposit, paid weigh station bypass and tolls, profit sharing, and/or paid vacations.

Referral Bonuses

This is another source of revenue made available to drivers who can encourage their experienced friends to join the team.


The driver shortage has certainly help boost driver compensation which has been long overdue. To keep pace, some truck fleets are considering further double-digit driver pay increases later in the year. The common feeling is that this current capacity crunch is here to stay for another 18 to 24 months. Trucking companies need to adjust to the current realities of what it takes to recruit quality drivers and serve their customers.

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Dan Goodwill, President, Dan Goodwill & Associates Inc. has over 30 years of experience in the logistics and transportation industries in both Canada and the United States. Dan has held executive level positions in the industry including President of Yellow Transportation’s Canada division, President of Clarke Logistics (Canada’s largest Intermodal Marketing Company), General Manager of the Railfast division of TNT and Vice President, Sales & Marketing, TNT Overland Express.

Goodwill is currently a consultant to manufacturers and distributors, helping them improve their transportation processes and save millions of dollars in freight spend. Mr. Goodwill also provides consulting services to transportation and logistics organizations to help them improve their profitability.

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  • The city of Toronto was their hiring local drivers at $30.00 per hour plus overtime Some companies were at 60 cents per mile plus detention pay. Many other companies were at 44 to 48 cents per mile and getting very little interest. They were just giving away pens and other small items and getting very few truck drivers. Truck drivers need to make at least twice the On. Minimum wage to attract enough truck drivers back to driving O.T.R. Young people are not interested in giving free time at docks and being away week or more at at time.

  • I have over 34 years of Trucking experience and the only way I would do long haul is they paid me 30 dollars an hour from the time I arrive at the yard, do a pretrip, hook up, check the trailer over and drive, sleep and all else a driver does, and pay me until I get back, unhook and park the truck and am done doing whatever else the boss says to do

  • Pay is still garbage. I’ll go back to trucking for 40 dollars an hour and overtime after 8.

    I refuse any less. Give it three years and I bet we’ll be there.

    • We can not afford to pay truck drivers $40.00 per hour. We need to improve parking and treatment of truck drivers both in Canada and the U.S. until truck drivers are paid for all hours worked the (shortage) will get worse
      A minimum wage of $ 24.00 per hour for local drivers with 2 years experience and a $ 75.00 per diem for O.T.R. drivers after a minimum of 10 months as a second driver would be fair or $30.00 per hour for driving and dock time, would be fair.

    • Hey John, can you give me a heads up for some places to apply with decent hours and $35-40 + per hour? I have 5 years experience, I can drive literally anything, fast card, and the internet is overwhelming me in searching !

  • It’s such a demanding job. I’m anything but a truck driver – just your ordinary user of the road. And as such, I think truck drivers need to be paid very well, both to make sure these are qualified people and to make sure they can afford to take time off driving for proper rest.

    • I think that you should ask to present your view point to the fédéral gouvernent who controls trucking as a driver myself. I wish the O.T .A. (C
      T.A.) had the same view instead of pushing e logs on us and allowing customers to not provide bathrooms to drivers delivering to thier customers

  • What is going on!?? I think truck drivers should be paid well.. at least twice!! Its not an easy job being a truck driver. Its very unfair and I refuse any less.. Truck drivers have a family to feed…

  • Former O/O and raised in a truck guy here! (Heavy Equipment Tech now)
    Drivers are doing other jobs nowadays and until the trucking companies share the profits fairly, this will be the norm!

    Fort Mcmurray

  • Hi Dan-50 years in trucking from grass roots to management and Professional drivers still are underpaid! The day when drivers are paid equal to other trades,there will be no shortage. Due to minimal wage scale, unskilled people like the Saskathewan accident lately are “herding” commercial vehicles and Canada has a extemely high commercial accident rate. Monetary gain will eliminate unskilled drivers and High School grads may show interest in trucking trade.

  • I’ve been a truck driver for 21 years currently in my mid 40’s. However I don’t see much new drivers younger than me. This is an issue and major concern considering ‘Time Never Stops’. The average age of a Truck driver goes up annually. I work for a unionized company so the average pay is $30/hr plus.. No complaints there however the Quality of drivers as of late are a deplorable bunch who rip down yard fences & lack overall driving experience. In the next 5 years it’s going to be worsening so the pay for a Highway Driver will average $0.75/mile, Owner Operator $2.25/mile and City Driver $30/hr. 98% of products are delivered by Transport Trucks including the minimal items so Exerpeienced Qualified drivers with verbal communication will also be a concern.

  • Good article, but how can you ignore the issue of hours of service? Canadian transportation law is your worst enemy in that matter, yet the industry was probably so proud to have it passed back in the days: 60 hours a week before majoration, and no time limit in a single day… oh, and paying the drivers on a distance basis trumps the rules.. wow, what a great deal, we can get these suckers to keep our trucks running at a low rate, get them to be paid a ridiculous per-hour rate when conditions are the most stressful (traffic, winter) getting them to assume the risks, and require them to start over again after a short 36 hour break… Oh, but now what, where are they all gone?? You designed the very conditions for this shortage, yet you don’t seem to question yourselves on how to accomodate those who would be happy to do it on a humanly reseaonnable terms of 40, 45 hours a week, and majoration after 8 hours, just like in any other sectors. Oh, and that’s without mentioning the industry’s obession with telemetry and treating their employees like little children: you’re lacking drivers because you abused their good will AND because you’re killing the fun of it with your stupid tools. Period.