Drivers

One Woman Driver's Take on the Driver Shortage

November 2015, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Deborah Lockridge, Editor-in-Chief - Also by this author

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Art Johannson and Amanda Jones. Photo courtesy Drivewyze
Art Johannson and Amanda Jones. Photo courtesy Drivewyze

Amanda Jones has been on the road with husband Art Johansson for 13 years and driving for a little less than a year, so she's got some interesting perspectives on what fleets can do to attract and keep drivers, especially female ones.

Art, she says, has been driving for more than 34 years, "since he was a kid … he's been trucking longer than I've been alive." She met him while she was working security at a packing plant and was attracted by both the man and the job.

"I like traveling," she explains. "I'm not very good at sitting home and doing nothing, and going to a factory job every day seems extremely mind numbing. I was a cashier for a while and I hated it…. Security was good, a little more stimulating."

She was exposed to trucking at the security job, checking in trucks and monitoring reefers while they were running on site.

When she met Art, he was running local. By going long haul, he said he could make more money, but he would only do it if Amanda went with him. So she did.

Although she only got her CDL about a year ago, the two have been a team for 13, with Amanda handling paperwork, navigation, trip planning, border customs, dealing with dispatch and customers, and the like. And she keeps a Facebook page that looks at their life from the point of view of their dog, The Trucking Titan.

Treating Drivers Right

Amanda handled the paperwork for years before she got her CDL. Photo courtesy Drivewyze
Amanda handled the paperwork for years before she got her CDL. Photo courtesy Drivewyze

The two work for a Canadian company, JBM Logistics, which has about 45 trucks and specializes in hauling to and from the U.S.

The relationship with the company has been good, she says – much better than another company they worked for.

"I don't know how anybody can treat drivers like that," she says. "They were always giving us heck for things that were totally out of our control." Amanda said that company pushed them on a very tight schedule, yet they would get to the delivery point and the customer wouldn't be ready for them. "Then we would sit for two days waiting for the load to be ready and have to do it all over again."

It means a lot to Art and Amanda that JBM cares about safety. "If there are problems with the truck, you just call them up and tell them," she says. Contrast that to a previous company that pushed them to run overweight and over hours. They happened upon JBM when Art's truck was broken down and a JBM driver stopped to help.

The last straw with the previous company came when the company wouldn't give them their paycheck because they claimed Art and Amanda had quit without notice, when it was actually vacation Amanda said they had scheduled with the carrier nearly a month ahead of time.

Amanda prepares to bypass a weigh station using Drivewyze smartphone technology. Photo courtesy Drivewyze
Amanda prepares to bypass a weigh station using Drivewyze smartphone technology. Photo courtesy Drivewyze

Creature comforts are important, as well, she says. For instance, her company allows them to put in inverters to power TVs, refrigerators and microwave ovens as long as it doesn't cause permanent damage to the truck.

"I know a lot of companies don't allow you to put inverters in for safety reasons, fear of burning the truck down, but you get a mechanic to put it in instead of the driver himself. You can't expect someone to be on the road all the time in truckstops eating fast food. We stock our fridge so we can eat in the truck or the truckstop."

"This whole driver shortage thing drives me insane," Amanda says. "I think there's a shortage of drivers willing to put up with sh**. If they paid for the time you actually put in working and treated you like a human being rather than a number," she says, fleets wouldn't have such a problem finding good drivers.

This article is part of a year-long magazine and WebXclusive series, "The Driver Dilemma," focusing on the driver shortage and how to recruit, retain and train drivers.

Bringing in more women

Of course that's true whether you're a man or woman driver. When asked about the specific challenges of being a female, Amanda said there are things that seem to bother some women drivers more than others.

One is the attention, often unwanted, that women drivers can attract at truckstops, shippers and the like.

"On Facebook, a lot of women post that men are mean to them or tease them or flirt with them," she says.

High-Tech Truckers

Amanda's use of Facebook is just one example of how today's truckers are technology-savvy. Another is the couple's use of the Drivewyze weigh station preclearance system. A little over a year ago, after researching their options, Amanda signed up for the system, which allows them to request weigh station bypasses in 35 states. The response depends on their safety score. It's all done using a smartphone app. The bypasses reduce delays and save enough money in time and fuel related costs that it's worth the monthly fee.

"You get in places like TA in Ontario, if you go in as a woman and don't have a man with you, you do get a little extra attention, guys will leer at you, no one's ever touched me or grabbed me inappropriately, but it's nothing over and above what I already noticed in regular life. There's assholes everywhere. You can't let them get to you."

Another issue is security. Amanda says she doesn't feel particularly unsafe on the road, but she knows many women drivers who do.

That's why she recommends that fleets interested in attracting more women allow pets. Pets can offer a sense of security as well as companionship.

Which brings us back to that Facebook page for the dog, The Trucking Titan.

Amanda started that as a way for friends and family to keep up with what's happening every day and write about the things that happen day to day that are interesting for non-trucking people. However, it's not always interesting, she says, like waiting four hours at a customer. "That's boring – but through the dog's eyes, it's acceptable for a dog to say it's boring." The  page has more than 300 followers.

Amanda maintains a Facebook page of life on the road as seen through their dog's eyes. Photo courtesy Drivewyze
Amanda maintains a Facebook page of life on the road as seen through their dog's eyes. Photo courtesy Drivewyze

Comments

  1. 1. Globetrotter [ April 17, 2015 @ 02:45PM ]

    I really enjoyed the story, you guys are a cute Mike & Molly type couple.
    What are your plans for life after trucking though?
    You can't possibly still want to drive OTR do you?
    I hope this is my last year, I can't stand it anymore, I started driving in 1988 & been OTR since 1997.
    I want to buy a Limousine and drive for "UBER"!
    Good Luck to you both, please don't let trucking destroy what you guys have.

  2. 2. stephen w [ April 19, 2015 @ 05:19AM ]

    Many trucking companies short change truck drivers leave them stranded with no money 500 miles from home. The salvation army homeless shelters often see truck drivers. In Ontario Canada many O.W. workers are telling young people to run away from truck driving.. There is no shortage of truck drivers as most truck drivers are doing other jobs

  3. 3. Rick Gaskill [ April 20, 2015 @ 04:40AM ]

    It's interesting you feature a Canadian couple driving for a Canadian carrier. Turnover with Canadian carriers isn't half that of U.S. carriers. A Canadian driver's opinion isn't really applicable to U.S. carriers.

  4. 4. walker [ April 20, 2015 @ 05:23AM ]

    Definitely rockn that hat. With truck drivers being so GROSSLY under paid, how could it be an incouraging trade.

  5. 5. Art Meyer [ April 20, 2015 @ 06:57AM ]

    I have been driving since 1969 on and off over the road before all the federal regs both in the Unites States and Canada. What they are talking about holds true in the USA with the driver shortage , the feeling unsafe, the way the dispathers promise the moon and give you hell instead over things that you are not in control of. Weather, loads not ready, trucks breaking down, and the driver sufferes because he/ she only gets paid when the truck is moving miles down the road. But going back to my opening it is not always the company that is at fault drivers steal off loads, sell fuel off their cards and do abuse equipmentacross the country and the way drivers are portrayed as always being the bad guy or a rouge to be a driver has ruined the business, an individual that wants to make a career out owning or driving cannot make a good living due to too many reg and demands put on them by both the Governments and shippers who have unrealistic demands on the driver. You can't afford to be an independant anymore beacause of this and the comanies are still paying below avg. miles limiting what a driver can earn so they do leave and go else where for a more stable pay check..
    7000 drivers were lost in the industry in March how many will we lose in April???

  6. 6. Clyde North [ May 01, 2015 @ 01:39PM ]

    A lot of things need changed in order to prepare for the future in trucking. I envision in the not to distant future drivers making in the neighborhood of 100k. Why, supply and demand. What needs to be done. Consignees must be held to unloading and loading in reasonable time, 2 hours. High Schools need to add truck driving as an option for vo-tech. Then the apprentice signs on with companies that will train them until they reach age. this age probably needs lowered to 20 years with certificate of graduation and completed apprenticeship. Let's face it if you hold onto the 21 years, who is entering the workforce as drivers? Sure if you pay for truck driving school ( which does not prepare you anyhow) but most kids don't have that kind of money. If it is available to them at the high school level and the pay is made more attractive then you will have more drivers entering the industry to replace the aging workforce that we now have. Write your congressmen!

  7. 7. Don Norris [ August 12, 2015 @ 08:08PM ]

    Driver shortage ???
    We need more trucks on the highways????
    After 8 pm rest areas truck stops jammed packed.
    Issue with driver shortage. Large companies cannot keep drivers in trucks due to poor wages and running lanes, cry shortage, sugar coat a non issue.
    The hos rules are set for carriers with drivers on dedicated lanes such as Large LTL Carriers. Lets face it add more drivers will decrease parking or safe havens expect increase in accidents. As of August 2015 freight has decreased per number of available trucks in a majority of the lower forty eight States.
    Looks like deregulation has worked closing the doors of reputable truckload carriers paying drivers decent wages along with benefits, Increased Carriers adding owner operators at low pay rates per mile and weeding out responsibility to pay SS tax, workman's compensation, no medical coverage or pension increasing company profits.
    Legislators making laws with no knowledge of a job that takes drivers away from home days or weeks at a time, promoting non consistent sleep patterns, long 70 hour work weeks.
    My hat goes off for the men and woman moving America keeping the warehouses and stores supplied for all consumers to live a comfortable way of life giving up on home and family time what most other job workers take for granite.

    Some of you may not agree but these are true facts like it or not.
    DN. Trucking since 1978

  8. 8. Frank Langley [ December 27, 2015 @ 11:31PM ]

    Yea Don is right company's want owner operator to get the job done and we have all the expense and upkeep. You no I can't truck for nothing like a lot of guys do I wait and it's getting harder the way these liberals are destroying our country . They say theirs a drivers shortage they are stupid I sit and watch the load board like many others do and 99 present of loads are so cheap you would go in the hole. To many hands in the pot stealing from us they just want a butch of stupid Trk driver to haul it to make them richer. Rates go up when their a shortage of trucks not down that's the way I've seen it for 35 years out here. I hope everybody thinks before they vote next time because I can't stand to see my country and job go to hell the way it's going.

  9. 9. Debbie [ January 07, 2016 @ 05:50PM ]

    I am approximately 1 to 1 and a half years into the trucking industry. From what I know and reading these comments I feel like I've gotten into the wrong industry....I agree with raising standards including financial aspects of being an owner operator. And not just for them but even the companies that run you ragged. Changes need to be addressed within the government.

  10. 10. Joe [ March 13, 2016 @ 06:48PM ]

    I have been OTR for 32 years, and have always heard of driver shortages. I don't really think there is one in that you probably have 50,000 drivers out of work on any given day because they are fed-up with their last company or looking for something better.

    All they have ever needed to do is stop treating drivers like trash and pay them a decent wage and pay for everything a driver does.

    Too many drivers let companies push them around for one thing. Make them pay and treat you decent or ask them where they want their truck returned. Let them know from day one that they need you and you don't need them. When I changed companies about 25 years ago, the hiring manager told me that he was giving me 30 days probation. I replied "thank you, because I am giving you 2 weeks and if your no good I'm getting rid of you." Needless to say, he was speechless for a few seconds and then never mentioned that topic again and I was hired.

 

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