From Leah’s Desk: Thanking Truckers All Year


It’s September, and that means one thing at our office – National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. And I love it. We’re big on driver acknowledgement around here, and it warms my heart to see gratitude for truckers spread across the country every fall.

There’s good reason to appreciate everything that truckers do for us as a nation. 71% of all freight moved in the United States gets hauled in a truck. In 2017, that came to 10.8 billion tons of cargo, according to the American Trucking Association. This touches nearly every facet of our lives. Try to imagine what a grocery store or a hospital would look like without the men and women who sign up to drive a truck.

Of course, the job is as demanding as it is important. That’s been true for time immemorial, but never more so than in 2021, as we try to climb out of a pandemic and manage an oversized peak season.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week runs from September 12 – 18 this year. And while I love an “I Heart Truckers” sign as much as the next industry geek, this year I want to go a little deeper. As a host for Sirius XM’s Road Dog Trucking, I get a window into what drivers most want. So in honor of the upcoming week of trucker appreciation, I thought I would share some insights. After all, I know that readers of this newsletter want the same thing that I do – a happy, healthy, driver workforce, who takes pride in what they do, just as we take pride in them.

If you want to help your truckers feel recognized and celebrated all year long, here are a few ways to max out your support for them:

  1. Pay Truckers WellOf course I’m going to start with this one, right? Driver pay is something that you’ll want to stay competitive on (for more on how to do that, check out our National Survey of Driver Wages). Just as important is wage transparency – the how, when, what, and why related to how pay is dispensed. The better drivers understand the wage structure at your company, the more content they will be with each paycheck.If you want to give drivers a true gift, you can go one step further and address one of their biggest complaints – unpaid, unproductive time. We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. Driver detention is a major source of frustration, especially when it makes them late for their next appointment or causes them to miss a load. So are unpaid miles. The National Transportation Institute has helped scores of companies alleviate these complaints in a sustainable way.
  2. Host Driver Appreciation Events and Make Sure Truckers Can Attend ThemHaving a cookout and inviting your drivers is great. But I have a follow up question – how many of your truckers will be able to attend? I’m not talking about time off either. What I’m getting at is routing and schedules. Are your drivers’ schedules conducive to attending, or will they be on the other side of the country when you throw the party? Routing them through headquarters will go a long way in cultivating relationships.
  3. Promote or Start a Health and Wellness InitiativeHere’s a few sobering statistics about driver health, courtesy of the CDC: truckers are twice as likely to be obese as the rest of the population, twice as likely to smoke, 14% of them have diabetes (compared to 24% of the US population), and 75% get less than the recommended level of physical activity. That’s just bad news all around.With driver’s average age on the rise, it is more important than ever to institute a health and wellness program. You don’t want to lose drivers over medical disqualifications, and they don’t want to leave a job, especially over deteriorating health.Fortunately, this is easier to start than it sounds, and the options are myriad. There are many small steps that a company can take, and the National Transportation Institute is here to coach you through it. Happier, healthier drivers are just a few meetings away!
  4. Prioritize Driver EngagementThey may not be in the office every day, but drivers want to feel like a part of the company just as much as the analysts and directors do. There are a few ways to make that happen. One is to give them wearables to don from the road. Company hats and shirts can instill a sense of pride and pull double duty as a bit of free advertising.Something else that makes a big difference is driver enrichment and engagement. When I host SiriusXM’s Road Dog Trucking, truckers will call in to cheer each other on or provide support. There is an incredible amount of camaraderie on the road. Why not harness that positive energy with groups to help your drivers keep in touch with the company and each other?

This year, I want to make National Truck Driver Appreciation Week a year-round event. Who’s with me?

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Listen live every month

On the first Thursday of every month, NTI President & CEO Leah Shaver, aka the Sunshine Girl, goes live on air on SiriusXM Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking, to talk with drivers about all things pay. From paycheck questions to working with fleets on resolving issues around compensation, HR and legal, life on the road, and relationships with their employers, Payday on Road Dog Live dives into topics drivers care about most.

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