Equipment continues to be the top issue for professional truck drivers for the sixth consecutive quarter, according to PDA data gathered from drivers during their first 180 days of employment.
As in the two previous quarters, the two most mentioned concerns by drivers were equipment (34%) and compensation issues (24%). Issues with compensation dropped in second quarter 2021 from 25% in first quarter 2021.
“For the sixth quarter in a row, equipment and compensation issues continue to be the top driver issue,” said Scott Dismuke, PDA’s director of operations, in a press release. “The fact that these two issues are at the top is not an anomaly. As we have examined the data, drivers that experience equipment issues, also experience compensation issues weeks later as a result of being in the shop.”
Dismuke noted that while pay, home time, and driver respect get most of the attention when it comes to driver feedback, equipment issues are proving to be a key retention tool for carriers trying to keep drivers in their trucks.
“If a driver is consistently in the shop for breakdowns, they are not logging miles,” said Dismuke. “If they are not logging miles, then they are not making the pay that a company promises. So, an equipment issue for the driver this week, becomes a compensation problem for a driver next week.”
Miles-related compensation issues rose to 46% in Q2 after dropping for the past three quarters. Dismuke noted that in a strong freight market and a very competitive driver market, drivers struggling with miles could be a high turnover risk.
“In this market, it is essential that companies know which drivers are struggling to log miles so they can intervene and assist the driver,” Dismuke said. “With companies raising pay across the industry, it is important that drivers are making the pay being promised. If they are not making the pay being promised, they are receiving multiple calls from recruiters each day trying to lure them away.”
Operations issues were the third top issue for the fifth straight quarter, up slightly to 13% in Q2 from 12% in Q1. Driver feedback about operations continues to center on driver manager communication issues which rose 5% from 40% in Q1 of 2020 to 45% in Q2.
Dismuke notes that communication issues have spiked over the last three quarters and will continue to be a key to retaining drivers in this market.
Communication issues are up 15% since Q4 of 2020.
“As we have said previously, for drivers, communication is about respect,” Dismuke said. “Whether it is pay, home time or responding to a driver’s questions, keeping drivers in the communication loop and responding to them goes a long way to relieving driver frustration.”
Dismuke stated that PDA continues to see driver churn that was present in Q1 and that as long as freight remains strong and the driver market remains tight, they expect that trend to continue for the foreseeable future.
“There is no doubt that this is a tough driver market, from both a recruiting and retention standpoint,” Dismuke said. “Those carriers that proactively communicate with their drivers, attempt to reduce frustration and minimize a driver’s time in the shop are the best prepared to keep drivers during this time.”