Big Rig Trucking-Improving Perceptions of the Profession.

Big Rig Truck driving for a living and improving the industry image.


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Evidence indicates that public perceptions of the truck driving profession today are ambivalent. In a recent survey, the overall view of drivers of large trucks was positive for 80 percent of the public. At the same time, 64 percent of the public felt that truck drivers exceed the speed limit frequently. In addition, a majority believed that a substantial number of drivers engage in drug use, drinking, violence, and recklessness, and that truck drivers are more concerned with deadlines than safety. However, the public also feels that truck drivers are highly independent; this is a prized and respected characteristic in our society and one that the industry can capitalize on in improving public perceptions and in recruiting and retaining drivers.

Improved perceptions of the profession depend not only on the public, but also on the attitudes of the drivers themselves. It has been reported that a good driver attitude about his employer can be expected to result from limiting office turnover (i.e., retaining good dispatchers), pursuing driver-friendly freight practices that reduce loading and unloading requirements for drivers, having management staff accessible to address driver grievances, developing non-pay incentives, and providing training and orientation programs that focus on “30 days at a time” for each new hire.

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An additional and essential perspective on the relationship between driver satisfaction, driver retention, and fleet and driver safety is provided by key stakeholders in the trucking industry. To that end, a series of case studies was undertaken by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Foundation to collect data by stakeholder groupings and develop analyses and recommendations based on the best information currently available.

The four stakeholder groups were truck drivers, motor carrier management, commercial motor vehicle insurers, and trade and professional groups and associations.