September 8-14, 2019, marks National Truck Driver Appreciation week. The US is blanketed with events, giveaways, and discounts to thank the nation’s more than 3.5 million men and women professional truck drivers. However, with more than 71% of all goods moved by truck, drivers deserve our appreciation year-round. Without them, our economy would grind to a halt. However, financial pressures led to more than 600 trucking company closures in the first half of 2019, resulting in 20,000 fewer trucks on the road. This compounds the already critical driver shortage of 60,000 and growing. To keep North America moving, we need more professional drivers. Here are a few ways shippers can show their appreciation this week and beyond by making truck drivers’ lives on the road better:
- Wait times and detention – Most drivers only make money when their wheels are turning. Sitting at the dock to be loaded/unloaded often goes unpaid. Review average turn times at your facility and expedite how quickly drivers get back on the road. Sometimes docks get backed up, especially during peak seasons. When that happens, check to see if your carrier contract provides fair detention pay to compensate drivers for their time.
- Fuel consumption – Refrigerated trailers must stay cool for loads and unloads, which consumes fuel. Work with sites to ensure trailers only cool for the specific time needed and product is moved on and off trailers quickly to maintain energy efficiency with minimal fuel burn.
- Drop trailers – Staging trailers allows drivers to enter and exit a site in under 30 minutes. Look at any unused space at your facilities that could accommodate drop trailers. Park equipment so drivers can easily identify the correct trailer and hook to it for transport.
- Appointment windows – Imagine driving 1,000 miles and having to hit a firm 9 a.m. appointment. It’s not easy, especially with unpredictable traffic, weather, and construction delays along the way. Consider opening appointment windows to provide drivers with more flexibility for the uncontrollable elements of the road.
- Appointment times – Many drivers prefer to transport during the daylight for safety and sleep schedule reasons. Check to see if your facilities offer ample appointment times during the typical workday when possible. Also look at pick-up and delivery sites within your network to optimize appointments by lane rather than just facility. Drivers average between 400-500 miles per day. Try aligning appointments to help drivers maximize the utilization on their trucks with minimal downtime waiting for appointments.
- Driver amenities – Drivers are human. They spend hours alone on the road to arrive at their destinations on time. Provide restroom facilities, comfortable waiting areas, healthy snacks, and beverages to give drivers the respite they need before hitting the road again.
- Driver feedback – Most companies don’t ask drivers how they could improve, but who better to provide some constructive feedback? With the growing driver shortage, shippers competing for capacity want to be known as offering driver-preferred sites. Give drivers a quick survey to see how you are doing or check out apps like Dock411 to see how drivers rate facilities.
- Onsite parking – Drivers average nearly 60 minutes of their available daily drive time searching for parking. They want secure locations for their mandatory 10-hour break. Consider offering truck parking at your facility to keep your freight and the driver safe.
- Room on the road – It’s easy to get annoyed when one truck slowly passes another or to dart in front of a truck while it works through the 10-plus gears to get up to speed. Be patient – drivers are doing their best to make sure you and they get home to families safe.
- Give a shout out – Humans are quick to complain when things go wrong, but sometimes take for granted when things go right. Often the very best drivers go devoid of praise because they do their jobs without issue. The next time a driver does a great job, let them and their dispatcher know. Everyone loves a thank you for a job well done every now and then.
Professional driving is a tough job – nights away from family, difficult road conditions, and an 80,000-pound truck and trailer to maneuver. These road warriors certainly deserve our thanks this week, but more importantly, every day of the year.
Langham Logistics is proud to work with the very best carriers and drivers on the road. Our own fleet of dedicated drivers paired with high-quality carriers from across the country keep our customers moving forward. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (855) 214-2844.