By: DickinsonFleet On: February 23, 2016 In: Industry news Comments: 0

What does the next generation of truck drivers look like?

Admit it.  If you’re a Fleet Manager, this is a question you’ve entertained.

As more and more drivers continue to approach retirement age, it seems the younger generation just can’t come into the transportation industry quickly enough.  And those who do, well, often don’t last too long.

Truck Driver Shortage & The Trucker Image
Truck Driver Stereotype
*photo from Bay and Bay.com

We’ve discussed truck driver shortage and turnover a bit in previous posts, but Bob Costello, chief economist at American Trucking Association sums it up best.  In this U.S. News article, Costello says one of the industry’s problems is attracting young drivers. As he points out, the median age of all American workers last year (2014) was 42.3 years old. For truck transportation employees, it was 47.  This is a trend that is continuing and one that, at some point, will pose some serious economic concerns. 

What is the real reason the younger generation isn’t as attracted to trucking as in the past?  Many speculate it’s because the stereotypical trucker image.  Let’s face it, the stereotypical image of a truck driver isn’t exactly a flattering one.  So, what can be done to attract the up and comers to life on the road?

Technology In Trucking
Well, technological advances certainly help.  Trucking is a lifestyle and making things more comfortable for the driver is a step in the right direction.   Late last year, the first self-driving truck was unveiled in Nevada.  At first, this truck may have appeared as a threat to the job security of professional drivers.  In reality, though, it’s quite the opposite.  This truck represents a movement toward a more comfortable, less demanding work environment.  And let’s face it, the cool look of this truck is sure to help attract a younger demographic. 
Freightliner-Self-Driving-Semi
Additionally, trucking companies are providing drivers with more comfortable seats to reduce stress and wearables to help drivers stay better connected right from their wrist.  No doubt, these technological trends will continue over time ultimately creating a safer, more connected and desirable truck. 

Is The Younger Generation The Answer?
That’s the question that remains to be seen.  Or will the laid off construction workers, military veterans returning home and those looking for a true career be able to fill the void.  It could be a combination of each of these demographics, but one thing is for certain – something needs to change. 

Changes to Truck Driver Pay
Most truck drivers are paid by the mile.  And, as many drivers know, great money can be made in trucking.  Yet, one of the biggest complaints is the amount of time sitting, waiting or out of commission while broken down. 

Dickinson Fleet can do our part to help on the mobile maintenance and repair side of things, but we can’t make up for the missed pay while the wheels aren’t rolling.  That’s why many trucking companies are providing layover pay or offering salary driver positions.  This creates a more predictable paycheck in a very unpredictable industry. 

Question At Hand
So, what does the next generation of truck drivers look like?  Different.   The best answer, both drivers and the industry are going to look different.