Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Confucius (551-479 BC)
My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it. I never did like to work, and I don't deny it. I'd rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh--anything but work.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 -1865)
The trucking industry has a serious problem retaining an adequate number of long-distance truck drivers. In 2006, according to the American Transportation Research Institute, the research division of the American Trucking Association, the driver shortage was the most important problem facing the trucking industry. This finding was based on their survey of more than 5,000 trucking company executives and published in their annual list of the top ten concerns of the nation's largest trucking companies. In 2007, the driver shortage slipped to the second most important problem, (Gallagher 2007b) and in 2008, it was listed as the third most serious concern, with fuel costs the number one problem, and the weak economy as the second most serious issue facing the trucking industry (Outsourced Logistics 2008; Automotive Fleet 2008; Traffic World 2008).
As noted, the driver shortage is less severe in 2009 because of the twin problems of higher fuel costs in most of 2008 and the weakened economy. This has resulted in many trucking companies going out of business. For example, the American Trucking Association reported that during 2008, more than 3,600 trucking companies declared bankruptcy (Hoffman 2008; Roth 2008; Roth 2009). James P. Hoffa, president of the largest truck driver union, the Teamsters, stated that the recent business setting is "the worst economic environment since the Great Depression." (Gallagher 2008c) Because of this situation, his union in early 2009 agreed to a 10 percent hourly wage rate reduction with the largest LTL (less than truckload) carrier, YRC Worldwide. This action was taken because some financial observers believed that YRC would fail if it did not substantially reduce its cost structure (Gallagher 2009).
Although the driver shortage is less problematic now, it will again become a pressing problem because of demographics and trucking industry growth. The American Trucking Association commissioned a study by Global Insights, Inc. to examine the U.S. long-distance truck driver shortage. The report was completed in May 2005 and concluded that between 2005 and 2015 there will be a need to attract 539,000 new drivers to meet industry requirements. The report assumed that the trucking industry would grow at a rate of 2.2 percent per year, for an increase of 320,000 drivers in the ten year period. Also, looking at long-distance drivers who are 55 and older, and assuming they retire at 65, an additional 219,000 drivers will be needed to replace these workers (Global Insights, Inc. 2005). Joe White, a transportation consultant, examined the ATA Study and observed,
My opinion is that the driver shortage will be worse than predicted. Regardless of when the economy recovers, the large baby boomer demographic will soon begin retiring from all industries and the blue-collar labor competition will become fierce (Gallagher 2008b; see also White 2008a; White 2008b).
Not only will there be a future shortage of drivers, the problem of driver turnover will undoubtedly continue. Turnover is measured by comparing the number of drivers hired who quit within one year and dividing that by the total number of drivers hired. For example, if a trucking company has ten drivers and each driver works the entire year, they have a zero percentage turnover. Now assume just five of them work the entire year. The other five quit during the year and have to be replaced; we would then have a turnover rate for the company of 50 percent. If all ten of the original drivers quit and had to be replaced during the year, then the turnover rate would be 100 percent. In 2003 it was reported that half of all long-distance truck drivers leave their jobs after three months (Human Resource Management International Digest 2003). In 2007, the American Trucking Association stated that the driver turnover rate for long-distance truckload carriers was 127 percent. The highest it has been in recent years was 136 percent in 2005 (Traffic World 2007). By early 2009, because of the weak economic environment, it had fallen to 65 percent (Roth 2009), which is still a huge and expensive problem for the trucking industry.
There will be a future shortage of long-distance truck drivers. The purpose of this study is to determine exactly what these drivers like and dislike about their jobs. Once this is better understood, the trucking industry, and their recruiters, will be in an improved position to (a) emphasize the joys that these drivers experience and (b) minimize the frustrations that this job presents to its workers.
The great majority of academic research has centered on the problems of recruitment and turnover of long-distance truck drivers. Only a few studies have examined beneficial aspects of being a long-distance truck driver. The work itself, involving the independence of being your own boss when you are on the highway, was noted in a survey of Iowa truck drivers (Fuller and Walter 1993). Another study looked at the importance of driving new and better equipment (McElroy, Rodriquez, Griffin, Morrow, and Wilson 1993). Other studies mentioned the high income potential (Rodriguez and Griffin 1990) and the drivers' desire to travel around the United States (Stephenson and Fox 1996).
The detrimental aspects of being a long-distance truck driver have received far more analysis by academic researchers. One book length study by Michael H. Belzer is entitled, Sweatshops On Wheels. The dust jacket to Belzer's book states:
Most long-distance drivers are earning less than half of pre-deregulation (1980) wages and receiving reduced health and retirement benefits. With work weeks averaging more than 65 hours and average annual work hours estimated at nearly 3,400, truck drivers are working harder and earning less today than at any time during the last four decades (Belzer 2000).
A number of studies have examined aspects of driver dissatisfaction with their jobs and related issues:
* Excessive waiting at the loading and unloading docks (Crum and Morrow 2002).
* Excessively long work weeks (de Croon, Sluiter, Blon, Broersen and Frings-Dresen 2004; Crum and Morrow 2002).
* Lack of advancement opportunities (Min and Lambert 2002).
* Lack of job security (Min and Lambert 2002).
* Low pay (Min and Lambert 2002).
* Management's lack of empathy for their drivers work related problems (Richard, LeMay, Taylor and Turner 1994a; Richard, LeMay, Taylor, and Turner 1994b).
* Role of dispatchers in scheduling home time (Corsi and Fanara 1988; Keller 2002; Keller and Ozment 1999a; Keller and Ozment 1999b; Morrow, Suzuki, Crum, Ruben and Pautsch 2005; Richard, LeMay, and Taylor 1995).
* Excessive driver turnover rates (Beilock and Capelle 1990; Suzuki 2007).
* Effective methods of driver recruitment (Dobie, Rakowski, and Southern 1998; LeMay and Taylor 1988; Min and Eman 2003).
TRADE PUBLICATION ARTICLES
Transportation and trucking trade publications have also discussed the long-distance truck driver turnover and retention issues:
* Difficult to find parking locations (Matthews 2007; Natter 2007).
* Excessive time delays when loading or unloading (Richardson 1994).
* Excessive state and federal regulations (The Wall Street Journal 2008b; Natter 2008a; Natter 2008b).
* Working longer hours for less pay (Sturgress 1997; Gallagher 2007a; Gallagher 2008a).
* Excessive nights away from home (Shaw 2005; Bernard, Bouch and Young 2000; Morton 2007).
* Not a respected occupation (The Gallup Organization 1997).
* High fuel prices are stressing owner-operators (The Wall Street Journal 2008a; Cassidy and Gallagher 2008; McAuliffe 2008).
OVERALL DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURES
The data in this study were collected from professional truck drivers who had stopped at a large regional truck stop in the Midwest. The truck stop was located off a heavily traveled Interstate highway. The development of the research methodology and the survey items used in the study began with a review of the relevant literature and the creation of a battery of questions related to long-distance trucking. Those questions were reviewed in detail in subsequent meetings between the primary researchers and managers at a national transportation firm specializing in over-the-road trucking. Based upon discussion with those managers, several of the questions were revised and reworded in order to incorporate language and terms appropriate to long-distance truck drivers, and several new questions were added to the questionnaire.
After meeting with the trucking firm officials, an outline of the research program was presented to the management team of the previously mentioned truck stop. Those managers enthusiastically supported the research and granted the researchers permission to administer questionnaires to long-distance truck drivers as they relaxed in the "drivers only" lounge at the facility. The management team of the truck stop also agreed to place professionally created signage at strategic locations in the truck stop restaurant and gift shop. Those signs described the study and informed truckers when the researchers would begin conducting interviews. Interviews were conducted at various times of the day (mornings, afternoons, and evenings) and on different days of the week during a three-week period. The primary researchers dressed in shirts and hats that clearly identified the university with which they were affiliated.
Individual truckers were approach by one of the primary researchers as the trucker entered the drivers' lounge at the facility or as they paid for their fuel just prior to entering the lounge. The researcher introduced him/herself to the truck driver, explained the nature of the study, informed the driver that the interview would …