A hard, and not always rewarding job: many truckers are not satisfied with their work. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the global offer of truck drivers is decreasing year by year. It is urgent to run for cover in order not to lose competitiveness in a more and more service demanding market.
Who wouldn't want to spend their own life traveling, being free to go and see new places and meet new people every single day? This is a really romantic vision of what trucking life could be. But it does not correspond to reality exactly or, at least, there is much more to know. The other and probably forgotten side of the coin is made by the long hours spent in the cabin, driving in total solitude, by the many days away from home, by the stress and the risks of being on the road every day, any weather, anyway.
Therefore, the results coming out from some of the most recent surveys dealt with the tucker's job satisfaction do not surprise too much. For example, about one year ago the American magazine Truckers News and its sister publication for owner-operators Overdrive asked 919 readers - 589 company drivers and 330 owner-leasing operators - how they perceive their jobs. For about one in two, it is just a way with which to pay the bills. Almost a third would like to change. One in five consider it as a thankless job, that few people really appreciate and respect. Then, half of the panel also believes new technologies will be used to monitor and control drivers. And one-third fears that the new trucking technology can make trucks easier to drive so driver pay will go down.
In April 2019, the daily magazine the USA Today reported that truck driving was ranked 17th among the worst jobs in the U.S.A. considering stress, satisfaction, safety, pay, future job prospects, and job security. And according to a poll by the American analytics and advisory company Gallup Just less than one in four truckers get into the industry to earn good money.
The issue obviously does not concern only the American market. Actually, this could probably be the same in Europe where, for several years, there has been a growing and at the same time unsatisfied demand for truck drivers. In early March, even before the Covid-19 pandemic crisis broke out, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) foresees that the matter of lack of industrial vehicle drivers in Europe would increase in 2020. And in 2019, 23% of transport companies experienced a shortage of qualified drivers. In 2020, this value is expected to reach 36%.
Thus, while on the one hand both the volumes of shipped goods and so the demand for road freight transport is expected to keep on growing, also as a consequence of the global diffusion of e-commerce, on the other hand, we must start to ask who will drive the trucks that more and more will be called to delivery these goods. The answer to this question must be sought by analyzing the sentiment surveys realized among the truckers themselves.
Low pay seems to be one of the main reasons why trucking companies have problems recruiting and retaining drivers. But it is not the only one. Putting payment issues aside, a widespread need for safety and security would seem to emerge by all the surveys, generally. The requirement is about future job prospects as well as the health of truckers carrying out a stressful and exhausting job. Even if most of the respondents to Truckers News and Overdrive drivers' survey seem to be really skeptical and even afraid about the impacts of the new technology on their job - and this probably suggests a lack in information about it that must be filled -, 17% is confident that new technology will make the job easier and safer for drivers. Comfort is another key issue for truckers' job satisfaction: over two-thirds of truckers involved in the survey said a comfortable seat is the most important feature in the truck they drive.
All these expectations and hopes can and must be turned into reality. Thus, by investing in the safety and comfort of the truck with innovative products and services, the transport companies and the freight operators can not only increase the value of their assets and the efficiency of the distribution activity but also set the basis on which build a really comfortable and appealing job context. This guarantees manpower enough to keep on providing the road freight transport service. Therefore, to get back an offer of professional truck drivers adequate to the growing demand for road freight transport, the trucker must be in the business vision and the companies are now asked to define overall better working conditions capable of making this tough profession satisfying and even attractive too.
D. Hollis, “Survey: Trucking ‘just a job’ for half of drivers; a third want out”, https://www.truckersnews.com/survey-trucking-just-a-job-for-half-of-drivers-a-third-want-out/, Jan. 11th 2020