America recognizes National Truck Driver Appreciation Week during the second week in September. It’s a time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work in one of the nation’s most demanding and vital jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates there are one million professional men and women classified as light delivery or heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. They not only deliver our goods safely, securely, and on time, they also keep our highways safe.
We can be thankful for truck drivers and recognize that without them, our table, our closet, and the store would all be empty. Truckers move America forward.
This week is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Here are 5 ways that carriers, brokers, and shippers can show respect to drivers for all 52 weeks in the year.
1. Respect the Driver’s Time
We surveyed 257 carriers and owner-operators earlier this year about detention times, and 63% of them said that it takes more than 3 hours on average to get loaded or unloaded. That's a waste of the driver's time. Getting held up at a loading dock or stuck in traffic can be the difference between a driver getting home to family or being stuck in the sleeper cabin another night. It can also lead to missing your next load and ruining the rest of your work week.
Drivers take extra care to manage their hours-of-service (HOS) and mandatory breaks so they can avoid situations like that, so shippers and receivers can take extra care to make sure they're back on the road in a timely manner. Or if the driver is detained longer than the standard two hour grace period, compensate them for their time. Just like yours, the driver’s time is valuable.
2. Fair Pay
Truckers recently told Overdrive Magazine that the worst part of their job is the regulations. Lack of respect was number 2, and driver pay came in third.
Advocating for professional drivers is one way to address trucking regulations, and curbing detention times is one way to show respect. But driver pay is also another sign of respect. Drivers bear the burden of a lot of those regulations, and they should be compensated for taking on that responsibility.
Companies that show that their drivers' work is appreciated tend to keep their drivers around the longest. Truck drivers have unique skill sets, and with the shortage of new drivers entering the industry, those skills are increasingly rare in today’s work force.
If you're a broker trying to get a load covered, do you know if the shipper has a bad reputation for detention? Is there anywhere to park the truck if the driver arrives at the destination early? Will there be lumpers, and who’s paying the fee? Are the pallets shrinkwrapped?
Letting the driver know everything there is to know about the load shows that you appreciate what goes into doing the job well.
4. Time at Home
A lot of drivers got into the job because they like the open road. That doesn’t mean they want to live there. Home time matters big time.
For carriers, that means learning your drivers’ preferences. Some may want short runs, while others are happy to be away from home for long stretches. Show your appreciation by doing your best to match each driver with the schedule that best fits his or her needs.
5. Access to Facilities
When drivers arrive at the delivery dock, they’ve likely just spent a few hours behind the wheel. Give them access to the facilities. A couch, cup of coffee, or just access to the bathroom is a simple gesture of appreciation for the person who just safely delivered your valuable freight.