America’s truck drivers, quite literally, keep our country moving. They’re a vital part of nearly every sector of the economy, delivering raw materials, medicine and food to roughly 80% of U.S. communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain chaos that followed highlighted just how bad things can get when hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and other entities don’t have the supplies they need. The men and women who make up our nation’s truck drivers are the people we rely on to deliver these supplies.
And yet, it can still feel like truck driving as a profession, as well as the drivers themselves, are largely undervalued. Both long- and short-haul trucking are high-stress, physically demanding jobs that take an immense toll on individuals. Finding ways to make their lives easier is the right thing to do, but it’s something that can be mutually beneficial for both the individual and the company.
While it’s great to celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week every September, here are a few ways that you can show your appreciation for drivers year-round.
Educate yourself on everything they do
Just about every fleet owner knows that a truck driver’s job goes beyond simply getting from point A to point B (especially if they’re an owner-operator). However, most people can relate to losing sight of others’ responsibilities when we’re so caught up in our own, which is why it’s important to talk to your drivers and listen to their experiences. They’re the ones in the truck every single day and they know what they have to deal with. Communicate with them and listen when they tell you about their pain points.
For example, the ATRI reports that a lack of truck parking is the number one concern amongst truck drivers in 2023. While you can’t control how many available parking spaces there are, you can keep a consistent dialogue and work with drivers to ensure they spend as little time as possible looking for parking.
An emphasis on driver communication in general may even help alleviate many of the concerns your drivers have. Showing that you’re listening to them and their needs is one of the best possible ways to show that you appreciate and value your drivers.
Invest in software & apps designed to help drivers
There are a number of ways trucking-specific apps and software can make life easier for drivers. For example, RTS Pro mobile and web app, was designed by RTS specifically to help drivers perform many of the essential functions of their job. Through RTS Pro, drivers can get same-day payment on their freight invoices, access to industry-leading fuel and maintenance discounts (as well as other fuel promotions and perks), find and book thousands of available loads, check broker and shipper credit ratings and more.
There are also transportation management systems like ProTransport that can help streamline trucking operations. While systems like these are primarily used by fleet owners and owner-operators, certain features like two-way mobile dispatching communication can be a way to help simplify the day for a driver.
Trucking is a hard enough job as it is. While software on its own won’t eliminate every difficult aspect of the job, it will add simplicity and reduce stress for drivers, which is one major way to show care beyond just National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
Reward their performance and loyalty
We’ve repeatedly mentioned the fact that truck driving is a hard job because of the lifestyle it requires. Most experienced drivers will tell you that they do it because, despite its challenges, it’s what they love to do and want to keep doing. However, the ongoing driver shortage suggests that there are very real issues to address.
It’s not that these drivers simply lost their love for driving; it could be that many feel the job is no longer worth it. Many drivers have stated that declining health and wellness, inadequate wages and benefits, poor working conditions and many other factors played a role in their decision to leave the profession.
To truly show appreciation for your drivers, it’s important to do everything you can to reward those who perform high-quality work and have remained with the company for several years. Think about how much time is invested into training these individuals and building relationships. Then think about how hard it can be to find qualified candidates that fit your company’s core values and culture. It’s smart and important to invest in the people you already have, including showing your appreciation for their continued hard work not only in September, but always.