Motor carriers, the solution to your problems is no big secret

October 8, 2019

Mark Schremmer


For years, there has been a huge disconnect between large motor carriers and their truck drivers. The difference between how the two groups view the trucking industry is vast.

A perfect example of this disconnect can be found in the American Transportation Research Institute’s 2019 Critical Issues Survey results.

According to motor carriers, the No. 1 issue facing the trucking industry today is the “driver shortage.” No. 2 is “driver retention.”

Now let’s see what truck drivers list among the top trucking issues. Not surprisingly, truckers point to “driver compensation.”

Let’s think about this for a minute. Motor carriers and truckers are basically talking about the same issue, but they are looking at it in a completely different way.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh provided a simple and effective solution to trucking’s chief concern.

“Pay them,” Pugh said. “As a matter of fact, trucking companies could solve both of their top concerns by addressing what matters most to drivers.”

The fact that motor carriers pretend like they are unable to discover this solution on their own is baffling.

First, let’s talk about the so-called “driver shortage.” Listing the “driver shortage” as your top trucking issue is kind of like a U.S. voter listing his or her No. 1 concern as “zombie attacks.” There are no zombies, and there is no driver shortage.

OOIDA has refuted the “driver shortage” claims for years, and a recent federal report affirmed the Association’s stance. OOIDA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics both say that increasing wages would likely alleviate any issues with recruitment and retention.

“The real problem is carriers aren’t taking the necessary steps to keep their drivers,” Pugh said. “This fact is demonstrated in other ongoing research and the high ranking of retention in this latest survey.”

OOIDA has long said the real issue for motor carriers is “driver retention.” Turnover rates have consistently hovered around 90% for large motor carriers over the years. This means that these motor carriers are finding qualified CDL holders and hiring them, but they can’t keep them.

Hmm. What could these motor carriers possibly do to keep these drivers around? Maybe a bunch of highly paid executives could have a conference in San Diego to brainstorm a possible solution.

Or maybe they could just look at the truckers’ list.

“There is a pretty simple solution to everything and that is to pay drivers for their time,” Pugh said. “We think it’s rather hypocritical for big trucking to keep saying there is a driver shortage when, according to the survey, the top concern of drivers isn’t even on their radar.”

Click here to Tweet the need for driver pay to increase.

Top 10 issues for truck drivers

  1. Driver compensation
  2. Hours of service
  3. Parking
  4. ELD mandate
  5. Detention time
  6. Speed limiters
  7. Driver training
  8. Driver distraction
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Automated vehicles

Top 10 issues for motor carriers

  1. Driver shortage
  2. Driver retention
  3. Hours of service
  4. CSA
  5. Infrastructure
  6. Detention time
  7. Economy
  8. ELD mandate
  9. Insurance cost/availability
  10. Tort reform


Lucas Oil

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.