Agent News

Fundamental Freeway – April 2022

Driver Shortage? A Truck Owner’s Point of View

While a driver shortage was anticipated, several recent difficulties have complicated the issue further — the pandemic, aging drivers, quality of life concerns and the Drug Clearing House have all played a part in supply chain problems and driver shortages.

To gain better insight into these industry challenges, we recently sat down with Fundamental customer David Summitt of Summitt Trucking. David reflected on driver shortages and how his firm has been handling it — treating the drivers well was at the top of his list. “We need to be empathetic to their needs and desires,” said David. “We try to give them the best equipment, strategize to keep them rolling and give them the least amount of wait time possible. Additionally, we try to pat them on the back and thank them often.”

Good wages, benefits and increased time at home are also areas of concern for drivers’ well-being. While this can be challenging, Summitt attempts to operate in the lanes that pay the most so they can pass that on to their drivers. Team building activities, hosting a driver appreciation week, maintaining an open-door policy and engaging with driver-friendly customers are all tactics David utilizes to combat poor driver retention rates.

Despite this, turnover is still occurring. David said that 80% of the drivers they lose want to be home every evening. Another 15% leave because they’re either at retirement age or decide to leave the industry, 3% will not give a reason and 2% are removed due to failing a drug test at hiring. And replacing these drivers is no easy task. Trucking companies are doing everything they can to bring in new drivers, but it remains a struggle.

David feels the situation is much more a driver crisis than a driver shortage, but remains hopeful for the future. “What I do know is that our nation will have to get behind our drivers and praise them,” said David. “We’ll have to treat them much better, pay them considerably more, and loosen the legal restrictions if we want to attract people to our industry.”

The complications in the trucking industry have garnered national support. In December of 2021, the White House unveiled the Biden-Harris Administration Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Trucking Workforce. The strategy acknowledged the trucking industry’s challenges and centered on building the next generation of drivers. The plan allows the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Labor to support an acceleration of registered apprenticeship programs. Additionally, the FMCSA has earmarked $30 million in funding to help States speed up the process of gaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

At Fundamental Underwriters, we understand how difficult it currently is to recruit and hire drivers. With that, we have decided to work with our customers to allow them to hire drivers with less than two years of CDL experience – but  will be subject to structuring a formal program that meets the approval of our Loss Control team.

Requirements include:

  • A safety-positive culture
  • Drivers with less than two years of experience cannot exceed 20% of the total driver fleet
  • A specific training/finishing plan for affected drivers
  • A mentorship program ulitizing experienced driver trainers
  • Route oversight and periodic check-ins

If you believe that you currently have these parameters in place, or would consider implementing them, please contact your loss control consultant to discuss.

Loss Control Coffee Talk Videos

We’re excited to continue our quarterly Coffee Talks this year. We recently welcomed Randy Sturdivant, executive vice president of Infinit-I Worksafe Solutions to lead our Q1 discussion. Randy reviewed essential driver training topics, including where to target training and the impact of frequent and consistent training on claims and CSA violations.

If you missed this or any of our previous sessions, please feel free to visit our Coffee Talks page to watch recordings of them.

Be on the lookout for communication on our Q2 Coffee Talk webinar!

Top 100 Truck Bottlenecks

The American Transportation Research Institute recently released their list of the national highway system’s top bottleneck locations. At the top if the list is I-71 at I-75 in Cincinnati. To see the remainder of the rankings, click here.

2022 International Roadcheck

Every year, the CVSA focuses on a violation in a particular category. This year’s emphasis will be on wheel ends. For more details and resources, click here.

Driver Drug Testing Update

The Department of Transportation recommended new drug testing procedures to allow employers to test truck drivers via oral fluid samples. For more information, click here.

FMCSA Regulatory Update

In February, the FMCSA announced a revision to its regulatory guidance. The update revolves around the term “medical treatment” and how it is no longer applicable to an x-ray exam. For further information on the guidance, please read the notice.