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Top 10 Driver Issues of 2021 & What Can Be Done About Them
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

The Top Ten Driver Issues List of 2021 has been released by Professional Driver Agency (PDA). It is the first list of its kind, pinpointing the most common frustrations of truck drivers from last year after the agency participated in thousands of phone calls with them. 

Scott Dismuke, VP of Operations at PDA explained, “PDA has spent the last several years collecting data from tens of thousands of drivers on issues and frustrations they experience out on the road. This year’s list offers key insights into the challenges drivers are facing in a very critical freight and tight driver market.” 

The entire list of the top driver issues in 2021 includes: 

  1. Tractor – Mechanical breakdown issues 
  2. Compensation – Pay rate not competitive 
  3. Equipment Assignment – Tractor broken down 
  4. Home time – Daily home time desired 
  5. Miles – Inconsistent miles 
  6. Trailers – Mechanical/tire issues 
  7. Compensation – Paycheck inaccurate 
  8. Miles – Poor scheduling/planning 
  9. Communication – Slow response by driver manager 
  10. Equipment – Onboard communication device not working 

Hearing feedback directly from drivers is an excellent way to find out what really makes them tick. Motor carriers can now use this list of specific drawbacks as a guide to what they can do to make their companies better suited for today’s drivers and boost recruitment and retention.  

Let’s break down these difficulties into five main categories and address what can be done to avoid or improve them. 

Equipment & Technology Issues 

From the tractor itself to the trailer, tires, and onboarding equipment, there’s so much that goes into maintaining your company’s rigs. Staying on track with regular mechanical maintenance, performing safety checks and inspections, and ensuring any operations devices are in working order can make a huge difference.  

Neglecting to address any issues with commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) can lead to critical violations and put drivers out of service. No one needs to pay hefty fines or put their CSA score at risk! Any investment made in the equipment drivers use will only allow your fleet to operate more efficiently and compliantly. 

Problems with Pay 

Dismuke touched on why this concern is so prominent: “In 2021, we saw very aggressive driver recruitment as well as many industry-wide pay increases.  Drivers see the advertisements; they know what companies are offering. If drivers aren’t making what carriers are promising, in this market, they have multiple options to go elsewhere.” 

The demand for drivers is up and so are the rates they’re eligible to earn. Pay offerings that are competitive with similar carriers is how companies can continue to bring in drivers and keep the ones who have stayed with them up until now.  

It’s imperative that motor carriers ensure their payroll services are up to date to avoid inaccurate payments and owing retroactive pay. Promising an employee a specific number is one thing, but following through with their payment is another. 

If your drivers are paid by the mile, it’s crucial to ensure they are receiving the correct compensation for their routes as well, which leads us to the next driver issue at hand. 

Mileage Mishaps 

Staying in line with meeting the needs of drivers, carriers should be listening to the mileage requests of their drivers as much as possible. Some may want to run as long and as far as they can, while others may wish to stay closer to home. Keeping personal preferences in mind along with the number of miles they were guaranteed during their time of hire is a recipe for success and employee satisfaction. 

There’s also the scheduling aspect that ties into the routing of any trip. Double-checking if drivers will come across any detours or delays, stay within their allotted hours of service, earn overtime pay, or have any scheduling conflicts before they take to the open road makes things easier for everyone. 

Hoping for More Home Time 

A healthy work-life balance is important with any career. Unfortunately, truck drivers – and over-the-road drivers especially – do not always have the best of luck with this aspect of their careers. It is understandably difficult for carriers to guarantee specific home days/times during the current driver shortage; however, being aware of employees’ needs in this area can lead to better scheduling and routing across the board. 

If they’re not already, some companies may need to start spreading out freight differently or allowing drivers to take their trucks home to accommodate the needs of each unique employee. It’s a give-and-take concept, but being flexible whenever possible is key. 

Communication Concerns 

Terminal and driver managers wear many hats, but one duty they simply cannot neglect is maintaining an open line of communication with their drivers. A lot can happen while a driver is on the road, and they need to know they can reach out to management with any needs or concerns along the way. A simple miscommunication can lead to missed deadlines, routing issues, or even violations. By being available to their drivers, managers can improve the professional relationship and success of their fleets. 

Applying these Changes to Your Company 

If you’re struggling to hire and keep drivers, one or more of the top ten driver issues may be to blame. Taking the time to review your policies, workflow, equipment, and compensation rates and make any necessary changes could convince your current employees to stay behind the wheel and entice new drivers to join your fleet.  

Carriers can also update their driver application process to show new recruits they put drivers first from the very beginning of the professional relationship. 

Remember, what you do now to satisfy the needs of modern-day drivers will only strengthen your company’s reputation and retention rates for the long term. 

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