Driver retention has been a big focus over the past five years. The reports of an ever-present driver shortage seem to be a mainstay in the news, and older truckers are preparing for retirement, leaving a gap for new hires, who may not have the industry knowledge or experience behind them to smoothly fit into their new roles. As older drivers retire and younger ones come in, there is a lot of sense behind retaining experienced truckers.
Experienced Truckers Understand Compliance and Safety
Experienced truckers, despite what some might think, are not old. There are plenty of truck drivers in their 30s and 40s who have years of experience under their belts. With guidance from the OOIDA to focus on safety, experienced drivers understand the rules and regulations of the road better than most. They also understand compliance and why new directives come down from above from time to time. Experienced truckers not only know how to lower fleet expenses through safety, but they can act as mentors to new and less experienced drivers to to make sure guidelines are followed company-wide, which can have a cumulative effect for the whole company.
Retaining experienced drivers can be challenging. Losing drivers with experience and understanding in an industry with growing turnover rates could make the driver shortage a very real challenge in the near future. Trucking companies need to find a way to retain experienced drivers in a way that is meaningful, and not just an afterthought. Obviously monetary compensation is a good incentive, but trucking companies need to bear in mind that experience varies from driver to driver, and the performance needs to reflect those years on the road. Some trucking companies are even trying out hourly wages for experienced drivers to compensate for detention time because they add value to the company on and off the road. Other fleets have started mentoring programs to recognize experienced truckers and have them coach newer hires or walk people through compliance and regulations with a small monthly bonus in addition to their regular pay. And sometimes, a simple “Thank You” is all it takes.