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Simple solution for ending ‘driver shortage,’ survey says: Pay drivers more

| September 02, 2014

Carriers use a wide array of tactics to find and keep drivers, but results from a recently published survey show there’s overwhelmingly one thing fleets can do to accomplish their recruiting and retention goals: Raise pay for drivers.

Nearly 80 percent of the thousands of drivers surveyed nationwide by National Retail System said salary was the most important factor when choosing a job.


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Home time ranked the second-most chosen factor with 67 percent, while “benefits” ranked third with 52 percent. Survey respondents were asked to select up to three.

Sign-on bonuses (13 percent) and training (11 percent) ranked the lowest.

NRS’ east coast recruitment officer David Bullins said home time has become more important of late due to hits in productivity and pay caused by the 2013 hours of service rule. Increased downtime, he said, “ultimately means less money so driversa re now making the push to become local drivers instead. Since drivers cannot run like they used to, home time has now become a higher priority.”


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Forty-seven percent of respondents said new equipment was an attraction to a driving job, while 31 percent said company reputation was a priority.

Nearly 90 percent of the drivers surveyed said they’d had fewer than 5 jobs in the last 10 years, with nearly half (47 percent) saying they’d had 1-2 jobs.

Here are charts detailing NRS’ findings:

  • localnet

    Imagine that? I’m a leased O/O… But, the wages these company guys are getting is pathetic! I was making the same 20 years ago, when coffee and showers were free for the most part, and you could actually take a nap when tired, if you get my drift.

    The wages and the new hours of service rules when combined, are nothing more than a recipe for poverty.

    I run local/regional, and can burn through the clock in a few days without even breaking a sweat and plenty of rest… In the old days, I could actually USE my sleeper berth and work a few more DAYS! Now, 14 hours straight with no consideration to the actual job being done. One size does not fit all.

  • Allen Smith

    Too bad none of the millions of drivers couldn’t think of that. I guess we’re not smart enough.

  • T.k. Hood

    I began driving trucks in 1986 and for the last 7-yrs I have struggled as an owner operator. Todays pay is relative to what is was 30 yrs ago if not less than what it was then, because inflation has skyrocketed. The cost to do business no longer has any balance. Repairs and the cost of parts does not justify the means of income. The price of fuel is astronomically high and with the way laws are written and the lack of compensation for detention, which for the most part is to be blamed on the receiver of goods and their lumpers associated with load control; this is all a deterrent that needs fixing. I also feel the industry marginalized itself by hiring immigrants willing to work for less, even though it is far more than they could make in their home land. This has hurt the safety and respect of the industry as we once knew it. Now days when I stop to get fuel or have interaction with other drivers, I feel lost, like I have entered the twilight zone. Almost everyone is speaking a foreign language. I wonder where did I cross the border? I believe that Iam one of the very last true American Truckers left, and I feel I too will also soon be gone.

  • safetygirl

    Yes, pay is too low. Ridiculously low for the job in our corner of the trucking world. I am watching numbers though and what I see is not a greedy company pocketing the green. I am not a bean counter but I can see us struggling to compete in the market. They say we run on a 3% margin but I don’t see our prices rising as fast as costs. Everybody has a fuel surcharge but how about the cost related to fuel that dont get accounted for. All of our parts are shipped, tires are made from petroleum so the prices have risen steadily. licensing and tax on tax has not hesitated to rise each year. For years now the blue collar people have been absorbing the cost of increased prices for everything from trucking of parts to ever rising taxes and indirect government fees. Anybody checked on how much a psp record costs a company? Multiply that by the number of drivers in a fleet. Driver records cost $13 each in WA and a new one is required each year. The price goes up each year unlike my wages. The people at the DMV all get regular raises though, regardless of the economy, not that I begrudge them that, I’m just sayin. With the fiasco of Medical cards driver physicals have gone from $70 to $120 or more. It takes an office person an hour or two a week just to check each new card to make sure the doc is both registered at the national fmc resistry and that his office sent it in to DOL and that DOL actually updated the record. Otherwise the drivers next inspection stop will tag the company with an unfit driver out of service. Oh, yes, and that leads us to the inevitable compliance audit which absorbs the office time for a week each year or two. Medical insurance is now mandatory and more drivers sign up for it. The young single guys and anyone with some other option used to forgo the expense for a time. Now they cant legally so the company subsidizes much much employee medical premiums at $600 a month per family, $400 per month for a couple, and 270 a month per single guy (all this and the drivers are paying too) Thousands have gone into electronic gadgets for the truck and training for people to try to get the DOT happy with us as well as catch all that wasted fuel lost while trucks idle. Talk about killing moral, take away a guys air on a hot day. We have hired two new people to help manage safety scores and compliance issues as well as adding to maintenance crews. I could go on and on. I can see where the drivers (and my) raises have gone. They have been running out the back door through an open tap. America better be ready to pay a lot more for groceries because its coming. The wages will have to rise…course then we will use it on groceries.

  • Stormy

    “Simple solution for ending ‘driver shortage,’ firm says: Pay drivers more “.

    I say this statement was made by a simpleton without a clue!

    Simple as Obama’s cure, just throw more money at it.

  • Happy Canuck

    What does OY! mean. I’m Canadian and I don’t get it. You don’t mean EH! do ya.
    You need to get out more. HAHA. Just havin fun with ya

  • jojo

    The Co OTR Drivers may have an upcoming opportunity to actually change the way they are paid. Drivers, you better beware and think things over carefully or you will find yourself in worse shape than you are now.
    Laws need to be changed and minimum standards need to be in place.
    Understand this, The More Money that the company spends on computers and gadgets to do your job for you, The Less You Are Worth. Can’t tell time or draw a line, ELD’s will now do it for you!


    Raise pay AND get the state and federal governments to change laws and quit treating truckers like criminals with moron IQs. Legislators don’t understand the trucking industry and pass ridiculous laws that make traffic and safety worse and cost drivers a great deal of money. I know truckers who left the industry because they got tried of being treated so badly all the time by the state and federal laws and LEOs.

  • sthomas1957

    Burger King was originally a British company. So what difference is it if it’s now Canadian?

  • Ed.

    So it would appear it’s a world wide issue . (UK driver) But just out of curiosity what is the average weekly, monthly take home pay after all taxes in North America?

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  • Mats Roger Landen

    Used to drive in Europe, based in Sweden, – now I make less than half of what I use to make, I have to pay for my “benefits”, pay twice as much in rent, for a smaller Flat, get two weeks of vacation, instead of five……….. But the weather is better.

  • mark murphy

    …reele- – whn wuz th last tyime u phutt in ..40 hr wrk week…for 1100$…-noww tyimz tht by 3 = 120 hr 7 day wrk week….should payy 3300$- w.o owning/leese untyill tht happinz….im sytting it owyt…..ty hwever – if 5 guyz burrgurs – can gett 22$ for two burgers wytt great fryiz..then – shyippers/recivers should .ponny upp – th ballence
    ……..MRMM/ M R XPRESS

  • Hal Kiah

    It’s gonna take a lot more than just paying the driver more! for example;
    (1) Driver pay
    (2) detention time forced onto the shipper and/or receiver (no pay? no haul)
    (3) Layover time
    better hometime. (dispatchers and planners not sending the driver in
    the opposite direction from what the driver requested. Dr appointments,
    anniversaries, birthday of their children, graduations, and the like,
    NO more excuses or asking for favors without reciprocating in favor of
    the driver)
    (5) put an end to treating drivers like meat behind the
    wheel or like numbers. Next dispatcher that asks me what my driver
    number is, I’m gonna ask what their Dispatcher IQ is!!
    (6) Oh! and
    on top of hometime, add vacation time! when a driver puts in for
    vacation time, nine times out of ten, they’ve spent some money on
    reservations someplace, well in advance, so that they can have some
    quality time with their families, and when the “Office” makes excuses
    for not getting them there on time, the driver loses out, BIG TIME,
    Many of those reservations are NON-REFUNDABLE, And the driver and their
    family get royally Ticked about that.

  • Coffeeclue

    You’re not one of the few American truckers. You’re one of the dumb truckers. If you’re an owner operator, nobody is telling you to take cheap loads. Book your own loads instead of being signed on to a carrier that hauls commodity freight. Better yet, find a carrier that hauls specialized freight and you will make a lot more money. Blaming immigrants is silly. Your ancestors came to this country some time ago as immigrants too, unless you’re a Native American.

  • Coffeeclue

    For whatever reason truckers act like someone is forcing them to accept low pay. Carriers bid on freight based on their expenses plus profit margin. So, if they’re able to pay drivers less, they can bid less and get more business. If drivers wouldn’t accept lower pay, carriers would have to bid more for business. This is very simple capitalism. If you don’t like your pay, DO SOMETHING ELSE!!!

  • localnet

    Lived in a jewish area for awhile, and I do say eh, spent allot of time up north and still get teased about it. ;)

  • localnet

    Usually can make that easily in one day. Normal work week for me is between 800 and 1600 miles, work 4 or 5 days a week, if that.

  • 387

    What did he say?

  • Bill

    “Your ancestors came to this country some time ago as immigrants too, unless you’re a Native American”? Are you trying to tell me that the “Native Americans” were always here, like they sprouted from the ground somehow in America when the earth was formed. They tell us that man has his roots in Africa so using logic one would have to assume we spread out from there to the rest of the globe. As to them being here first, just use google to see the evidence that suggests many others were here before them.

  • steve4447

    I wonder how many like you want less money???

    And it’s my fault not Obama’s fault…That I like money…

  • steve4447

    Just as long as Drivers will work for less…no one is going to make them take more…

    They are always there own worst enemy….And the reason I got off of the road…Nobody else works for free!….The biggest giveaway artists in the world..Wait for free..Load and unload for free…Breakdown pallets for free..I can’t even list all of the stuff that they give away for free….And keep on hating Unions…That dispatcher is looking out for you best interests all of the time …along with your company and the shippers…

    As long as you are working for free…stop by my place and I’ll always find something for you to do…24/7…

  • Blackaton

    Well, duh! More pay and guaranteed time off. For the last 30 years that’s what I got, Above average pay and at least one weekend day off. Those jobs are put there if you know what you are doing. Both companies had very little employee turnover after a year.

  • j.v.

    Uh. . .whatever you said there, people are wondering what language that is.

  • Jim Mason

    Wonder why UPS or UPS Freight has no driver shortage?? Could it be because of good pay and benefits?

  • Mike Smith

    I don’t think it matters what you offer drivers it will still be difficult to hold them unless you make it a Monday thru Friday job.

    The problem with truck driving, as it is, is that it is a nomadic job. We stopped being nomads 10,000 years ago when we became settled, agriculturalist.

    Truck driving is actually worse than being a nomad. At least the nomads had their spouse/family with them. Truck driving you have to leave your family and friends at home for days, weeks, and months.

    I believe this is why are government has allowed millions of foreigners/legal and illegal, to flood into our country, because, like the Mexicans, they are raised to a far greater level in life, just living in our worst $hit hole communities. All this making them them perfect for truck driving. And this why you see so many turd world savages driving truck, especially in CA. Let me add, these people, from the worst countries, with the worst drivers in the world, are the reason why this government is imposing so many new laws on us American Drivers.

    One more thing, I just spoke to a truck owner, today. He said that these trud world savages are being given trucks by our government. Years ago there was a stroy about these same people being given convenience stores in So Cal. I did believe that our government would do this to us. As it turns out they do. A NEWS report, about these people owning stores in Riverside, CA, said they were telling lotto wins they didn’t win anything, win they didwin, lead to the discovery that these third worlders actually got their store through our own government.

    Not only did they get the stores from our government the government would not allow them to fail. when they did fail the government sent in government help to ensure they succeeded. Did American Citizens ever get this kind of help. I know I didn’t.

  • Mike Smith

    The costs and incompetent mechanics, for old AND new engines, is outrageous.

  • MG

    Same tired old conclusion. Even if we get to the point where the average income rises, that still won’t address the fact that 40hr/wk trucking jobs are the exception, not the rule.You’d have to be slightly nuts to decide to start up a career in a field with excessive hours, no predictability, frequent unpaid time, poor public image, and one of the highest on-the-job accident/mortality rates around. And these symptoms all revolve around one issue – people want their stuff moved for a little money as possible.

    This won’t be fixed with legislation. In the end, the industry either demands more compensation, or accepts the status quo. Likewise, the driver either walks, or stays and puts up with their company’s substandard compensation and conditions. And the latter changes nothing.

  • DonM

    Put the HOS regs back to the way they were in 2000, keep the restart provisions. Drivers really should be making 75,000 per year or more for the time they have to spend on the road.

  • Kendall Oakleaf

    That’s 100% right book your own loads and get your own customers

  • Dave Nichols

    The new common core english.

  • Joe Skeptical

    LOL sounds nice. Nice joke. The “training” companies which are really short term team driver operations (trainees are nothing but super cheap team partners) supply a regular flow of drivers who expect to make $35-40K per year, do Trucking Co. “B” hires them for $45K and..the drivers take it!

  • Joe Skeptical

    You are describing how some businesses benefit from a bad economy.

  • Joe Skeptical

    You have just described the “driver shortage”. As soon as most new drivers figure out what the job involves and how much unpaid work is required, they leave the business. Don’t worry, there are dozens of people at the “workforce commission” (the unemployment line) from which to choose. if 1 out of 10 doesn’t use drugs and has no criminal history, there are plenty of companies who’ll abuse that driver as a team partner for a month.

  • Joe Skeptical

    You don’t think you paid for your “benefits” in Europe? Don’t like your expenses in the USA? Move…it’s a HUGE country and most of it very inexpensive.

  • Joe Skeptical

    About US $ 750 weekly, annually 38K

  • Joe Skeptical

    Many truckers are borderline criminals with low IQs…have you ever watched a truck stop overnight on any major US interstate? Do you have a CDL-A?

  • Coffeeclue

    They don’t have to leave. They can buy their own trucks, get their own authority and book freight that actually pays well. I do this every day and I’m not complaining. No, you don’t need a new shiny truck nor any chrome. You can factor your receivables and finance an old truck with a trailer. You need some cash upfront, but not much. You also need a brain… something many of these guys lack, so they settle for low wages.

  • Jack Simon

    If you look at the stats on the drivers that actually make it through the training and drive a truck afterward, there is about 1 driver out of 20 that makes it through a year on the road. Many have wives that they can’t trust, don’t like being away from home, or they were fed full of cr@p about the big bucks that they would earn.

  • Paul Gassler

    You’re exactly right. It’s cheaper for me to sit for a day or two than to run for cheap. Do the math guys.

  • Jack Simon

    We can always hire the people that “do the jobs that Americans won’t do”.
    Any job is worth doing if the pay is commiserate with the work that needs to be done. When the pay for picking oranges is worth the time and effort that is required there will be lots of Americans picking oranges. What would it take to get people to pick oranges? Maybe 10 bucks per hour? Maybe 15 bucks??
    When there is good pay for the work that truckers do, there will no longer be a shortage of drivers.

    There is no driver shortage and the companies that pay pennies per mile are finding out that they can attract more with more money. Swift and a couple of other companies just raised their pay.

  • Jack Simon

    My ancestors came here legally and didn’t get amnesty for coming across a border during the night. They got no handouts because there were none available, so they worked their butt off to make ends meet.

    I can’t say the same for many of the people that come here these days.


    Yes, I’m a retired long haul trucker (48 and Canada). I was a trainer for Burlington for many years and an O/O at GFTC. I still maintain my class A CDL but dropped all endorsements except Passenger in case I need to help with the grandchildren’s field trip bus at school or church. I also have a master’s degree in mathematics from UF and went back to teaching when I got too old to drive. I’m clearly not a borderline criminal with a low IQ, and few drivers I met were. There are always some people in any group that make others look bad, but some of the nicest people I know are drivers I met during those years. The fact that a small percentage of drivers aren’t people you’d bring home for a visit doesn’t justify calling us all dumb criminals nor treating all truckers like scum. I judge people individually and expect others to have the courtesy to do the same. Sadly, legislators and companies don’t always do that. But truckers badmouthing truckers doesn’t help either. Be blessed.


    All this can be summed up as treating drivers like human beings. Many companies still haven’t learned this.


    Yes. Because drivers aren’t working a 40-hour week and going home to family at night. They shouldn’t be paid like convenience store clerks.


    That’s about what our stats were at Burlington when I trained. 1 out of 20 lasted a year. I suspect most of them were sitting in front of the TV at 11PM and saw an ad for a trucking school that promised them $80,000 a year and signed up the next day without investigating what the life was like or if that was a lie. I researched it for a year before I changed careers to trucking and still got a few surprises but not many.


    For most drivers, I think you are right. But I wanted long haul because of the chance to visit scattered family all those years I drove. Coming home for 3 or 4 days once a month was OK. That doesn’t work well for people with young families or children at home. It’s a life of camping out all the time, in which you spend more actual hours in the truck than out of it. Trailers carried on rail are going to change that, and there will be fewer long haul jobs in the future.

  • Damon

    EXACTLY!!! I don’t work for UPS, but I do drive for a company that pays almost as well, has good benefits, excellent home time, and treats it’s drivers with respect. Guess what. We have almost ZERO turnover. About the only time we have an opening is if someone dies or retires. The last big national carrier that I worked for keeps calling me and asking me to come back. I just laugh in their faces. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.