A new survey asked thousands of truck drivers nationwide what makes them choose one job over another. Pay came out as the top reason, followed by the amount of time they get at home and then benefits.

The poll was conducted by third party logistics provider National Retail Systems, which includes the trucking companies Keystone Freight and National Retail Transportation.

In the poll, 79% of the drivers polled agreed that salary was most important when choosing a job. Sign-on bonus and training were the lowest, at 13% and 11%, respectively.

“It used to be that regional and long-haul drivers were making better money, but now with the new hours of service they are required to have more downtime,” said David Bullins, NRS’ East Coast recruitment officer. “That downtime ultimately means less money, so drivers are now making the push to become local drivers instead. Since drivers cannot run like they used to, home-time has now become a higher priority.”

When drivers were asked how many truck driver jobs they have had in the past 10 years, 42% had between three and five jobs. 

"This just shows how in demand drivers are," Bullins says. "They can work for a company, and if they aren’t happy with the color of their tractor or the tone of a dispatcher, it is as easy as going down the street to pick up a new job.”

Despite the amount of pay being so important to drivers, NRS Vice President Joe Brady said current market conditions will not allow transportation companies to increase pay beyond a certain level.

“With driver pay increases it is challenging for asset-based transportation companies to make money,” he said. “Customers are reluctant to raise pricing, even though ever increasing variables such as new equipment, maintenance, and employee benefits continue to rise with inflation. These expenses add up, and transportation companies many times are forced to incur the cost-differential.”

Seventy-nine percent of those polled had said they go to the Internet to search driver jobs, while 42% said they apply for two to three jobs at a time when looking for a new job. Almost 8% say they apply for more than 15 jobs at a time.

Lupe Casas, an NRS truck driver recruitment officer who specializes in owner-operator drivers, said the numbers only emphasize how hiring drivers is truly a race. “As a recruiter you need to process a driver quickly, because within a couple of days they could already be driving for another company.”

The survey also asked truckers the top reasons for leaving their previous job, and found that 43% said salary was the main reason. Home-time was the second most common reason at 28%.

“Retention is as important as recruitment and training,” Bullins says. “Why spend thousands of dollars to continue bringing on new drivers when management can make changes to retain the current fleet?”

“Companies are spending thousands, if not millions of dollars per year, towards advertising truck driver jobs instead of addressing some of the root causes of the truck driver shortage,” says Chris Saville, NRS marketing director.

“In many cases high school graduates do not have the option of choosing the career path as a truck driver due to the state minimum age of 21,” Saville point out. “By the time any graduates with aspirations of becoming a truck driver have reached the state minimum, they have most likely chosen a different career. Becoming a driver is almost like everyone’s plan ‘B’ because there is no career path directly out of high school. Insurance is also a barrier for these new drivers.

“The only ones winning are the job recruitment companies, because there is so much demand for truck drivers,” he added. “ This is only going to get worse as time goes on.”

NRS used its years of collected truck driver contact information to conduct the survey and also asked drivers via an online article to participate in the online survey.

NRS Truck Driver Jobs Survey Results Data

As a truck driver what most attracts you to a job? (Please select up to 3).

New Equipment 47%                                                               
Salary 79%  
Company Reputation 31%  
Home Time 67%  
Benefits 52%  
Sign-on Bonus 13%  
Location 36%  
Type of Run 32%  
Training 11%  
Other/Not Sure 6%  

How many driving jobs have you had in the last 10 years?

  • 1-2 47%
  • 3-5 41%
  • 6-8 5%
  • 9+ 7%

Where do you go to find truck driving jobs?

  • Internet 79%
  • Newspaper/Magazine 4%
  • Hiring Fair 1%
  • Flyers 1%
  • Truck Stop 1%
  • Referral 11%
  • Other 3%

When applying for driver jobs, how many do you usually apply for?

  • 1 15%
  • 2-3 42%
  • 4-6 20%
  • 7-10 7%
  • 11-15 2%
  • 15+ 8%
  • Not Sure 6%

What were the top reasons for you leaving your last job? (Please select up to 3).

  • Equipment 22%
  • Salary 43%
  • Company Reputation 14%
  • Home Time 28%
  • Benefits 21%
  • Location 9%
  • Type of run 17%
  • Retirement 22%
  • Health Reasons 7%
  • Training 2%
  • Lay-off 16%
  • Other 21%