Spending time at home has always been an important issue for truck drivers, especially for those with families. The amount of time a driver can spend at home can be the key to whether a driver will stay with a company that values their need, or move on to a different company, or sometimes a different career.
USA Truck, a large for-hire carrier based in Arkansas, is now testing a new program designed to improve drivers’ time off by giving them more flexibility.
The “Choose Your Hometime” program lets drivers choose when and where they take their break. Traditionally, most drivers have had to take their 34-hour restart break wherever they happened to be when they ran up against their weekly limit. If the break happened to begin more than a few hours’ commute from home, the driver would simply be out of luck.
USA Truck’s initiative allows drivers to work with their managers to develop routes that will bring them near home at the time of their break. Those drivers who do not hit the 60-hour limit in a week also have the option to skip their day off and save it for later. Under the new program, there is no limit to the number of days off that can be saved, so that a driver who wants to work every day for a couple of months can save up enough time for a two-week vacation with the family.
The advantage of this program for drivers is clear, but what does USA Truck gain? A more loyal workforce, if the increased flexibility inspires more drivers to stay with the company. Industry-wide, annual turnover is very high, to the point that many carriers must essentially recruit and train an entire new body of drivers every year. Anything that allows a carrier to increase competition for good drivers and retain the talent they already have, is at a definite advantage over other companies.
Finding ways to make work more enjoyable and rewarding for drivers may be the most simple way to cope with the ongoing driver shortage. And reducing turnover can sometimes pay for itself by not spending money on recruiting and training new drivers.
Altering schedules, as USA Truck has done, is just one way for a carrier to make their business more appealing to drivers. By incorporating a GPS tracking solution, better communication and more efficient dispatch, along with a more supportive approach to training, and pay scales based at least in part on driver skill rather than miles alone, are all ways to help keep good people behind the wheel.
Furthermore, with an electronic logging device (ELD) solution, manual logbooks become a thing of the past. Human error is reduced and the recording process for hours-of-service (HOS) is expedited. Data entry is accurate and fast so that carriers can stay compliant and keep their drivers safe.
There are many ways to keep drivers happy at work. With a GPS tracking solution, retaining drivers and increasing efficiency is made easy.
*About the author: Oswaldo Flores is a member of Teletrac's marketing team. He is an expert in product management in the transportation sector for the United States and Mexico.