300040241 | Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock 300040241

PDA: Equipment, compensation top driver concerns

Aug. 9, 2022
Second-quarter feedback reflects ongoing supply chain issues, softening freight market, agency says

Professional truck drivers still are most concerned with equipment and compensation issues, according to second-quarter data from PDA, reflecting ongoing supply chain issues and the softening freight market.

Data was gathered through “thousands” of phone calls with truckers, PDA said.

“The landscape has continued to evolve since the end of the first quarter,” said Scott Dismuke, PDA’s vice president of operations. “While the equipment and supply chain issues remain prevalent and freight is still good, the spot market has softened, gas prices are still high, interest rates are on the rise, and some economists are expecting the unemployment rate to go up.

“All of these factors could impact the driver market in the last two quarters of 2022.”

Dismuke noted that while overall equipment issues dropped during the first two quarters, PDA saw an increase in mechanical/breakdown issues. 

“When PDA talks about equipment issues, we consider more than tractor issues,” Dismuke explained. “Our equipment data includes tractor issues, mechanical/breakdowns, equipment assignment issues, on-board communication devices, APU/inverters, general maintenance issues, and trailer issues. We believe the increase in mechanical/breakdown issues is tied to aging fleets as a result of supply chain difficulties and company’s ability to get new trucks.”

Overall compensation issues were at 22.5% in Q2, up more than 1% from Q1 totals, PDA said. Of note, drivers complaining about their pay rate was up 2% quarter-over-quarter. Dismuke noted this was the second quarter in a row PDA recorded a rise in feedback regarding pay rate complaints.

“Drivers may have to deadhead more to get out of soft freight areas and there are fewer freight options to pick,” Dismuke said. “As a result, for the second quarter in a row, PDA data is showing that drivers complaining about miles-related compensation issues is on the rise.” 

Dismuke remarked that recession fears, gas prices, and rising interest rates could potentially cause a shift in the freight market and affect driver data in the second half of the year.  

“While PDA does not get into predicting the freight market, economic factors could impact the driver market, which may mean that the data PDA has been reporting over the last couple of years could shift,” Dismuke said. “Equipment issues have been the dominate complaint for drivers over the last two years, but if the freight market does soften, miles-related compensation issues and pay-rate complaints could start to rise.”

Driver retention continues to be more important now than ever.  Reducing turnover and keeping drivers in trucks will continue to be challenging, PDA concluded.

“If we see a softening in the freight, it will be more important than ever to have a good relationship with your drivers to keep them in your trucks,” Dismuke said. “Open and proactive communication with your drivers will be important in the last two quarters of 2022.”