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How to Appreciate Truck Drivers the Other 51 Weeks of the Year

07 Sep 2016 2:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is Sept. 11-17. Expect everyone from big carriers and national industry associations to issue proclamations, release videos and say nice things about truckers and how important they are to the economy.

All of that is nice to hear, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into anything concrete for the drivers. True appreciation takes commitment, produces tangible benefits for drivers and isn’t limited to a single week. We’ve compiled a list of how to truly appreciate a driver.

For carriers:

  • 1.      Treat drivers like people. Just because they’re not in the office, doesn’t mean they’re not part of the team. Remember their names, include them in company happenings and make them feel important.
  • 2.      Listen to them. Your drivers have valuable insight into your business and your clients that no one else in your company does. So it makes sense to listen when they offer a suggestion.
  • 3.      Pay them fairly. It’s a hard job and pay hasn’t kept up. Paying them fairly will help you hang onto your drivers, which will save you money and result in better service.
  • 4.      Start a driver recognition program. Salute drivers of the month, celebrate million-milers and reward exemplary behavior.
  • 5.      Get them home. Do everything in your power to get your drivers home when you say you will.
  • 6.      Give them good equipment. Sending drivers out in trucks with unaddressed maintenance and/or safety problems is dangerous and unfair.

For dispatchers and driver managers:

  • 1.      Know the drivers’ names. Treat them like human beings, not like faceless cogs in a machine. Remember that they have families, too.
  • 2.      Communicate. The more information a driver has about routes, schedules, destinations and other conditions, the more smoothly the ride will go.
  • 3.      Be honest. Let drivers know what you know and the reasons for changes in loads and schedules. No one likes to be kept in the dark.

For shippers:

  • 1.      Respect the driver’s time. A delay at the loading dock can push a driver past his hours of service and mean the difference between sleeping in a parking lot and sleeping at home. Delays are sometimes inevitable, but don’t waste drivers’ time unnecessarily.
  • 2.      Allow truckers access to the facilities. When a driver comes off the road, let him or her rest in the lounge, use the bathroom etc. Treat them as an important member of your team.
  • 3.      Keep your yard clean, safe and well-organized.  

For the driving public:

  • 1.      Drive safely and respectfully. Don’t tailgate; don’t cut them off; let them merge and realize that Class 8 trucks can’t accelerate, brake or maneuver as quickly as a four-wheeler.
  • 2.      Treat them. Chances are, almost everything you own was on the back of a truck at some point. Buy them lunch or a cup of coffee at a rest stop. Say thanks.   

We asked our RoadPro Road Warrior Pro Drivers Council members what makes them feel appreciated and here’s what they told us:

Maggie Stone: I had a farmer that would bring me donuts and occasionally make cinnamon rolls for the drivers.

Sierra Sugar and Allen Welcher: One of the greatest joys for me is when other drivers take the time to talk to each other. To me, that type of relaxed communication is a sign of mutual respect, camaraderie and gratitude towards each other.  

We’re especially appreciative when other drivers recognize the challenges associated with driving a big truck. Those moments when you can tell they are conscientiously giving you extra space to make a tight turn, or wave happily at you when you go by them; those little things mean so much and help reduce some of the monotony and stress from driving.

Joanne Fatta: My customers and their constant compliments about my work performance and reliability sure make me feel wonderfully appreciated. I smile when I come back from a week of vacation and my customers tell me, "We are so glad you are back." 

Motorists watching me closely through tight turns, giving me thumbs up, pointing to my Driver of the Year logo on my truck at a red light and asking if that is me and then giving me thumbs up and congratulations for my award. 

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