Drivers should work to become a top ‘draft pick’ for motor carriers

Drivers should work to become a top ‘draft pick’ for motor carriers

Each year, when the NFL free agency draft pick starts, with pro teams looking to pick up the best-of-the-best plays and put together a winning lineup, I can’t help but relate it to professional drivers.

Why the comparison? You hear me say all the time that drivers are the true “road athletes.” There are some differences — the ideal NFL player profile features size, power and speed, while the ideal pro driver profile includes good health, a safe driving record and a record of maintaining compliancy with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.

There’s a lot of noise out there lately about the driver shortage and 90% turnover rates. To me, this creates a huge market for drivers who are seeking the best opportunities, good home time, good mileage pay, respect, top equipment and good communication.

I know from my experience in the transportation business — working with drivers, helping them stay healthy on the road and, most importantly, helping them protect their livelihoods — that staying compliant with DOT guidelines to get their medical card is not always easy. Life on the road as a driver is challenging, and it takes a toll on one’s body and health.

If you are in good health and have a good driving record, the truck- and bus-driving jobs are plentiful, and there are opportunities anywhere in the country you wish to live. All you have to do is be a safe driver, learn how to make good food choices and engage in moderate exercise, and take care of yourself. There’s no need to train like an NFL player or attend summer camp; you just need to make smart, healthy choices.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I traveled frequently to speak at orientation classes for motor carriers around the country. Depending on the size of the carrier, I would work with anywhere between 20 and 120 drivers. I would walk out of those sessions thinking about how many motor carriers there are in the U.S. The numbers are staggering. I found myself wondering, “Where are all these men and women coming from, and how is it possible to have 90% turnover?”

It’s always amazed me that so much money is spent on recruiting and hiring drivers, and so very little is spent on retaining drivers.

This means it’s up to you to take control of your personal health, make the right choices and put yourself in the best position to be a highly sought after “free agent draft pick.”

Bob Perry has spent nearly the past four decades on a mission to educate professional drivers and share life-changing products and services to help them live healthier lives while on the road. Recognized throughout the transportation industry, from bus drivers to over-the-road professional drivers, Bob Perry has played an important role in creating a paradigm shift helping regulatory agencies, private and public sector entities, and consumers understand the current health challenges of the professional driver. He has participated as a wellness advocate in several roundtable discussions, large audience groups and small forums as well as going "curbside" through a national truck stop tour. Bob’s articles have been featured in The Trucker and a number of other national transportation industry publications and is the host of a weekly wellness call produced by Rolling Strong. Bob has been a regular guest on RedEye Radio and Land-Line Radio, and is often an invited guest on Sirius radio shows. He has been featured in the New York Times, Men's Health Magazine, Drug Store News, American Road Magazine, WSJ, NPR, ABC National Radio, as well as hundreds of daily newspapers. He has appeared on television news shows across the nation, including a featured TV segment on ABC NightLine News.
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Drivers should work to become a top ‘draft pick’ for motor carriers


In reading this article I found it interesting on the stats of those leaving being 90%, I myself as well as my husband both drive trucks. Part of the reason there is such a high turnover is that drivers have accidents and they don’t put them through safety training they just let them go. When I started out for SWIFT 28 years ago I had to back into a dock with my truck jackknifed because there was not sufficient room I had a 53-foot trailer and about 5 feet in front of that to maneuver and hit a steel spindle which did damage to the headlight. At a later point, I backed into a fence on a property they let me go when I got back in. The mechanics told me, “if you were a guy they would have sent you to a safety class.” Instead, they released me. That was after they gave me a trip heading to California then took it away from me and released me of my duties through a message. When I left I figured I would never go back. I have worked for several since then and been fine.
The other reason there is high turnover is that new drivers find out they really are not cut out for this kind of work. They don’t get to see their families enough or their spouses. It’s hard to be out there and not see them. So there are multiple reasons including the pay is not high enough. And when you have to run on a clock its hard to make any money at 28 to 42 cents per mile.