Truck drivers are critical to keeping America running. Every year, professional truck drivers travel a total of nearly 300 billion miles to deliver essential food and supplies across the United States. In fact, over 80% of U.S. communities depend solely on trucks for delivery of their goods and commodities, according to American Trucking Associations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting our day-to-day, the hard work of these professional men and women is more important now than ever before.
This year, National Truck Driver Appreciation Week takes place September 13-19, 2020. We wanted to pause and show appreciation for the 3.5 million truckers who deliver on behalf of our country, every day, without fail.
At Samsara, we’re honored to partner with companies who find creative ways to engage, recognize, and celebrate their drivers. Here are a few ways our customers throughout the trucking industry show appreciation for their drivers and the important jobs they do.
Give truckers a voice—and listen
With long days—or weeks—out on the road, professional truck drivers can sometimes feel isolated from the business. Over 60% of drivers don’t think that management communicates with them enough. In order to make sure their drivers feel appreciated and valued, some of our customers have made a concerted effort to better listen to and address the needs of truckers in their fleet.
GP Transco, the winner of the 2020 Samsara Top Fleet Award for Excellence in Driver Experience, has put drivers at the heart of their business. "We always like to think outside the box and think about how we can do things differently," said Marija Jamontas, VP of HR and Safety at GP Transco. "How can we provide a better experience for our drivers? How can we do things more efficiently and safely—and overall, better?"
One way they do this is by empowering drivers to provide frequent feedback. This ensures the driver perspective is considered in every part of their business—from reducing maintenance turnaround times to improving safety and decreasing fuel use.
The GP Transco team also leverages social media to strengthen their sense of community and help combat isolation. The launched a closed, drivers-only Facebook Group to provide a forum for drivers to discuss issues, share tips and connect with each other. Social media is also a platform for recognition, featuring inspiring stories about with the hashtag #ThankATrucker. "We treat our drivers as the backbone of our company," said Jamontas. "We really focus on making sure our drivers feel heard and respected."
Carter Logistics, a 2020 Samsara Top Fleet Award finalist, has given truckers a voice by introducing a Driver Relations department, a one-stop shop that supports their drivers and advocates for their driver force internally. When not receiving calls from drivers with suggestions and ideas, the Driver Relations team proactively reaches out to better understand each driver's circumstances and family dynamics. "Trucking often feels like a lonely profession. After all, you spend the majority of the time alone in the cab of your truck. In a time where drivers may be feeling more isolated on the road than ever, we want to emphasize that we're here for them,” said Rick Hauser, Assistant Director of Continuous Improvement at Carter Logistics.
Offer creative benefits to support professional truck drivers
Trucking is a difficult job, with countless hours on the road, time away from family, and a demanding workload. Recognizing these challenges, some of our customers have started offering additional services to support their drivers whether at home or behind the wheel.
Cabot Creamery, for example, provides their drivers with a weekly grocery allowance. “This way we know that they can stay healthy and eat food that is going to nourish and create the best versions of themselves,” said Katie Dattilio, Logistics Supervisor at Cabot Creamery. This benefit has helped their drivers become healthier; in 2019, a quarter of the Cabot Creamery fleet jumped on the keto diet bandwagon, with drivers losing 40 pounds on average. “They collectively inspire one another to keep up the great work, and it has created fleet unity and teamwork,” said Dattilio.
GP Transco offers perks that are a bit closer to home, including a gym and basketball court for drivers. When drivers come on-site for maintenance or other issues, these facilities create an inviting experience at headquarters, providing drivers with a healthy way to unwind and encouraging them to check-in more frequently.
Show appreciation for top performers
Driver recognition should happen year-round, not just during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Many of our customers have introduced programs to regularly incentivize and reward high-performing drivers.
Dohrn has also created a variety of different rewards to keep their employees motivated and actively engaged with their safety program. For years, they have offered engraved plaques to drivers who achieve one and two million miles accident-free. This year, they introduced a new annual reward for the driver with the highest Samsara Safety Score. The winner gets their name engraved on a wall and receives a commendation from Robert Howard, Dohrn’s Chief Operating Officer, that is shared online. “Whether it’s a million mile award, an annual safety score award, or something as small as a thank you, we always try to show our appreciation to our drivers,” said Howard. “They make it happen for our customers.
Another example: DHL recently partnered with Samsara to remotely recognize drivers with their fifth annual Driver Safety Rodeo. Drivers across the country look forward to the opportunity to show their skills and compete for first prize. This year’s winner, Chicago-based courier Roger McGowan, was awarded $5,000 and recognized by DHL management during a virtual award ceremony. “It's a great feeling to be recognized for your hard work and your commitment to safe driving,” said McGowan.
Make every week National Truck Driver Appreciation Week
This year has made it clear—the nation and the economy relies on the dedication and hard work of truckers. We commend the efforts our customers make to show appreciation for drivers all year long. We’ve been inspired by their stories and celebrate all of the professional truck drivers across America.
Looking to offer more support to your drivers? Check out our additional resources with tips on how to improve overall driver experience and how to operate safely and efficiently during the coronavirus pandemic.