Driver shortage: Veteran operators’ views on who’s filling it

| September 04, 2013

Parts 1 and 2 of this series examined larger supply/demand forces throughout the trucking industry and more driver/carrier views of what needs to change in trucking to better the business. 

 

If the heightened regulatory environment indeed is screening out more potential drivers, it would seem that the caliber of the newest drivers would be improving. Based on truck stop diner conversation, however, the stereotype of the seasoned pro frowning on the newbies hasn’t changed.

Kenny Frye

Kenny Frye

Kenny Frye has been driving since 1974 and had worked as an instructor at a driving school before getting back on the road. He volunteered to be a trainer at the new company. They declined, Frye recalls, because his ways were “old school.”

“They said they needed the new drivers to learn beyond what I could teach them,” he recalled. “Beyond what I could teach them? I had 20 years’ experience. Yet they were teaming up a guy with two months’ experience with a guy with one month’s.

 “The chances these guys take with stuff is insane, because they don’t know any better,” Frye says. “No one has taken the time to train them.”

Jim Hoskins

Jim Hoskins

Jim Hoskins, from Corbin, Ky., agrees. He has been driving for 27 years and has been an owner-operator since 1998.

Hoskins noted the truck parked next to his at the truck stop as “tore all to pieces.”

“Those are the kind of guys that don’t take a minute’s pride in nothin’,” he says. “I’ve got a truck that’s a ’95 model. It’s a beautiful W900 because I take pride in what I do.”

John Minders

John Minders

John Minders – a Californian who’s been trucking for 12 years, including a stint as an owner-op – says he recently met a new driver “fresh out of school” in a couple of truck stops. “He says he doesn’t touch the speed limit – maybe in another year,” Minders says. “That’s a driver I can respect. But I’ve seen these other guys that come out of schools and jump right into a truck. Never been in snow, and they lay their truck over.”

Mike Hogan, from Decatur, Ala., reaches into his notebook for a recruiting flier. His company relies on its drivers to find new members for its team. “There’s drivers to be found, but good drivers are what we look for,” he says. “Of course, you’ve got to make contacts first.”

Mike Hogan

Mike Hogan

Hoskins dismisses the idea that no one wants to put up with trucking because of the wages.

“When I first started, I thought I was lucky,” he says. “I was getting 16 cents a mile running from Marysville, Ohio, to El Paso, Texas, in a cabover with no air conditioning and no radio, and I thought I was flying.”

Frye says that while he’s making more money today than at any time in his driving career, “it costs more money to operate. We’ve got to pay road taxes, use taxes, licenses, permits, tags. All of it adds up to us being the bottom guys on the food chain. But without us, America is going to fold.”

  • CURBSIBEDREAMER

    I COMMENT BECAUSE I FEEL THAT THE OLDTIMERS IN TRUCKING USUALLY ARE THE MOST CORRECT..USUALLY NOT ALWAYS..BECAUSE OF ALL THE CHANGES COMING ABOUT HOW CAN ANYONE KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR THE OTHER..HOW CAN BIG BROTHER PUT SO MUCH REGULATION ON AN INDUSTRY THEY CONSIDER UNSKILLED LABOR! CRAZY LAWS, MUCH GREED AND NO SAFETY..GREAT..LET ONE PERSON WHO CONJURED UP THESE RULES TRY AND ABIDE BY THEM..NOT GOING TO HAPPEN..TRY FINDING A PLACE TO PARK IN STATES THAT DELIBERATELY .. SHUT DOWN REST AREAS WITH CONSTRUCTION OR TRUCKSTOPS SO SMALL U THINK U ARE AT A CONVENIENCE STORE..TRY DELIVERING TO A PLACE THAT WILL NOT LET U SIT ON THE PREMISES WHEN U ARE EARLY..TRY ASKING WHERE U CAN PARK WITHOUT GETTING A TICKET SIMPLY BECAUSE U ARE IN A BIG RIG..TRY LETTING A COMPUTER SYSTEM MAKE AND PLAN YOUR EVERY MOVE THAT IS DEMEANING..TRY HAVING A LOAD THATS GOT TO GO AND RUNNING INTO EVERY DELAY YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO HOLD YOU UP AND MAKE YOUR CUT BACK TRUCK LATE..TRY HAVING FLAT TIRES THAT YOU KNEW WERE BAD BEFORE YOU LEFT BUT YOUR COMPANY TOO CHEAP TO LET YOU FIX THEM..THUS FURTHERING YOUR DELAY AND CHANCING THAT YOU WONT GET THE TICKET BECAUSE OF A NON RESPONSIVE BOSSMAN..

  • Pingback: Driver shortage: Veteran operators’ views on who’s filling it | America Truck Driving

  • Coffeeclue

    Instead, try buying your own truck and trailer and not have to go through all the company-related BS. No, it won’t be new and shiny, but it will be yours and you can decide where you want to go and for how long. Makes all the difference in the world.

  • Brad Hayes

    I’ve been driving for 20 years and the accidents I’ve seen
    looked very avoidable. Which I believe are due to the new
    hourly restrictions. Add the greenhorns with little to no
    experience trying to shove as much work as possible into
    that time frame and you get these avoidable accidents.

  • curbsidedreamer

    been an owner op for many yrs..been company also just sayin. i did it when they said I couldn’t and owned 4 trks over the last 34 yrs..Now they want to get rid of the o/op..its just darn hard to comply to all the asinine rules being put on the trucker..i believe that big brother will eventually get rid of all of us in the future..They want youngins who won’t fight back..now becoming completely independent would be an excellent way to go..you are right there..but somehow they will still control the amount of freight you can haul thus making it harder to get the loads through bigger companys that have undercut the rates..when I decide to buy my own again it will be the last harrah for me..

  • Mike Smith

    Unbelievable. Diversions.

  • martymarsh

    Just pissing in to the wind. Please excuse my French.

  • Claude Seadler

    I have been driving for 36 years and I started at 16 cents per mile. Like Mike Hogan stated that was real money. Today looking for “real paying” jobs is almost impossible. The changes of the regulations is tougher but conditions remain the same Some carriers still believe that paying wages that remain in the 1980′s , and continue to keep turnover at 100% is great for the bottom line. I am a relict of the road and some carriers do not want to talk to me because I am old school. I have no sympathy when the CEO S cry about the core problem that they created. There is no shortage of drivers…it is too many trucks on the road.

  • Guest

    Companies like Western Express are basically out of control….2500 trucks and ALLOWED to continue endangering the country with their outrageous CSA File….they must be PAYING D.O.T to look the other way….this is the kind of TRASH that is allowed to operate and why we have so much trouble in this industry….FMCSA has their Latest File posted for everyone to see…what a pathetic Out of Control company…….

  • Mike Lawrence

    After 43 years of this business, I am convinced that the shortage of drivers is a made up bunch of hype. The problem with the industry is a total mismanagement of the equipment that is manned and available. As in all my years, I see good drivers and bad both young and old. Being old school doesn’t make you better, it just makes you older. The real test is in how you respect your equipment and how you manage your time. I have 2 trucks running and we have no problem being compliant. You just have to plan better and make the best use of your time. Plan before you leave instead of trying to figure it out on the way.

  • Guest

    This CSA is basically only going to hassle the POOR.
    Companies like Western Express are running 2 ALERT STATUSES near 100%..and getting AWAY with it….No INTERVENTION/Audit?????? Gee smell something FUNNY here?? If it was you or me..we would be UNDER the JAIL by now……THIS Mega FLEET is able to CONTINUE in OPERATION??? With 2500 TRUCKS??? In Past 60 days alone they have had DEATH, INJURY, and 15 drivers ticketed for NO LICENSE????? Evidence here that CSA does NOT apply to WEALTHY EXECUTIVES…..only small company owners and POOR truck drivers…They will SWOOP on 1 truck driver with a lightbulb out……but they will NOT do an INTERVENTION/AUDIT/ ONSIGHT INVESTIGATION of this Murdering DUMP???

  • Spirit CDL

    I am the director at a school and I put new drivers on the road all the time. My instructors are all old school and I’m very proud of that. When my graduates drive better than the trainers at some of the trucking companies, (it DOES happen), I have to wonder how that is possible. Why are guys with 3 months or even 2 years driving experience training people? Stop blaming lack of sleep as the cause of accidents – inexperienced drivers without proper training are out there on the roads with you and your family. If the public knew/heard the stories I’ve heard they would think twice about driving anywhere near semis marked with particular company names. Drive safe my friends!

  • Guest

    Another REASON these illegal aliens dont get ARRESTED at weigh stations…Fernando Luevano…an illegal alien was hauling $45 Million worth of Narcotics and weed in his trailer June 25 2010 on I-10 San Bernadino…his residence WAS Fontana Calif….hmmmm something seems awfully fishy..about Fontana…most every driver appears to be a mexican…with an OLD beat junker..with Jose “logistics” on the door….THESE are the drivers that are hauling a HUGE amount of “freight” in Calif today….cops never ask any questions…just wave them thru at Banning and all the Coops in Calif……seems crooked from top to bottom..and alot of Payola taking place. Aug 30 2013…another junk truck and driver busted with $15 Million in Dope onboard his T/T.
    The News Sources were QUICK to state it was an AMERICAN CITIZEN…which is probably a LIE.
    No More iw written about THAT mysterious “trucker”..no name…company…nothing….quick to BURY that story arent they??????

  • Guest

    That was at the San Clemente check station I-5 in Calif……very suspicious all these “truckers” with HUGE amounts of DOPE onboard??????

  • Guest

    The new Majority of truckers in the Southwest are mexicans….the Government cant get enuff of them…..if you go into a TSA Screening office for Twic or Hazmat…you will be in line behind Spanish Speakers…they SOMEHOW get Federal Approval for Fast Track cards to get across the Border pronto too!!! Some of them dont speak any English…who knows how they get approval to be in America to begin with…damn sure taking all the trucking jobs…from Calif to Louisianna……No shortage of drivers there….no English Spoken or necessary…even though there is a CSA rule….they just let them go…..

  • rygobus

    Why would anyone be surprised ay the sad state of the trucking industry. It is totally controlled by a government that could teach the mafia how to wring every cent out of its victims. Uh taxpayers

  • Pingback: Owner Driver Jobs: The Old Vs The New

  • Bruce at 1600 Watch

    The big freight monopolies tend to shy away from old school folks with serious experience because the old school folks were trained to think for themselves and be responsible for their own actions. Today’s monopolies prefer young drones who will do what they’re told, unsafe or not and then bear the consequences for the company when it goes bad. Sadly, FMCSA facilitates this behavior on behalf of the large freight companies.

    It’s a time in trucking when old independents need to raise their gray haired heads and work together as a supportive group to help each other compete as best they can with the monopolies. They need to bring up a new generation of younger folk with integrity, common sense and decent values, who can then work together as a supportive group.

    The sad army of drones being created by the freight monopolies in tandem with FMCSA can never compete with actual professional drivers and true free markets.

    There is still hope for trucking in America, but real truckers are going to have to fight and scrap for it, just like our Founders did in 1776.

  • KW 57

    This is no joke!!! I have witnessed this first hand. Not just Mexicans, but also Russians and guys from India! Our country and our roadways are being taken over by drivers who can not speak english nor follow the rules of the road. It is only goiung to get worse!!

  • KW 57

    I have had this idea for quite sometime, and I will pitch it to the old timers: LETS RISE UP THRU THE ASHES OF THIS TRAVESTY AND FORM OUR OWN LARGER TRUCKING COMPANY WITH OLD FASHIONED VALUES AND MORALS. LETS BRING BACK THE ROAD WARRIOR AND THE HIGHWAY COWBOY. DOING THINGS RIGHT. THE AMERICAN WAY!!!!