Organizations in the recycling and waste management sectors continue to face major challenges in retaining and recruiting drivers for their transport fleets at a particularly perilous time, as drivers are needed more than ever to continue transferring transport. shipment of materials in order to satisfy customers.
In a particular market, oil tankers and liquids carriers face particularly difficult employment challenges in finding drivers. According to the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), which represents the tanker industry to Congress and regulatory agencies, companies serving these markets are seeing an almost 42% reduction in the number of qualified driver applicants. since 2019.
NTTC also estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of all tankers are currently unused due to a lack of qualified drivers.
Driver turnover rates remain inflated
While it would be easy to point out the COVID-19 pandemic as the culprit, the fact remains that it has been a growing problem for several years.
For the fourth year in a row, the driver shortage remains the top concern for the trucking industry on the global list of challenges and concerns, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) 2020 report, “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry “.
Compensation programs are regularly discussed to attract new drivers and retain existing drivers. However, fleets based on recycling and waste management are beginning to apply other driver recruitment and retention strategies.
Onboarding new drivers can erode results
Typically, the average cost of onboarding a new driver can exceed $ 10,000 for many companies. Organizations with fleets therefore have a continued motivation to retain their existing drivers in order to avoid paying high integration fees. What they are now starting to realize is that having drivers who drive newer trucks can improve their chances of retention.
Newer trucks come with newer technology, advanced safety features, and fewer maintenance and repair issues, which equates to less downtime and breakdowns on the side of the road. This means that drivers can return home to their families more frequently at the end of the day and drive trucks on their routes with more confidence that they will avoid breakdowns.
Besides the costs of recruiting drivers, not having enough drivers also weighs on the bottom line. Companies that focus on recycling and waste management are losing business to owner-operators because they don’t have enough drivers to take jobs.
“We’ve heard that with the high cash market trucking rates, individual owner-operators are choosing to get their own authority and remove loads from cargo panels,” said Bob McDowell, president and owner of WM Dewey & Son Inc, based in Houston. “They keep 100% of the revenue from the load rather than sharing it with a trucking company. This is a bad trend for established trucking companies, which cannot increase their number of drivers / owner-operators.
Advanced safety features benefit drivers and fleets
The advanced safety features found in today’s newer trucks are a big motivator for drivers to stay with a particular organization or fleet. Today’s drivers value comfort and safety features such as:
- pneumatic suspension
- power steering
- automated manual transmission
- engine power and speed settings
- lane departure
- collision mitigation
- adaptive cruise control
- blind spot monitoring
- roll stability
Companies and fleets realize a greater return on their investment in newer trucks when more of them are put into service. In fact, the cost of all safety equipment (including crash prevention, disc brakes, lane change and electronic stability control) reduces overall crash repairs and generates payback. investment in original safety technology in approximately 18 months (cost of repairs in the event of a collision avoided). These are substantial savings combined with the cost of integrating new conductors.
According to ATRI’s 2021 report, driver shortage and driver retention were among the top two issues faced by transport companies. Including drivers in the conversation about safety initiatives and recognizing their contribution is important for retention strategies. As more fleets and organizations replace aging trucks with newer, safer equipment on the roads, these companies are realizing that they will keep their drivers and others on the road safe, keep their jobs. drivers at a higher rate and will also achieve substantial savings by reducing the costs of accidents and disputes. as well as lower maintenance and repair costs.
Ultimately, companies are paying more attention to their overall lifecycle cost management strategies in line with the need for reduced driver turnover and better safety measures. Refocusing truck acquisition strategies on the basis of economic obsolescence rather than functional attrition now helps industry players to preserve their profit potential.
Katerina Jones is Vice President, Marketing and Business Development at Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in the areas of truck fleet business analysis, equipment financing and life cycle cost management.