Many truck drivers view retirement differently than other Americans

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In one way, it seems as though truck drivers are not at all like most other Americans. But, in another, truckers are similar to their non-driving counterparts.

A survey earlier this year by TD Ameritrade found most American workers want to retire by the time they turn 67. However, the survey also found many Americans are not financially prepared to trade in their jobs for lives of leisure.

And, a recent survey of truckers found few expect to get out of the business by the time they turn 67. That same survey found truckers, like other Americans, most likely don’t have enough money saved so they can retire. In fact, many drivers say they can’t afford to retire, and will continue driving as long as they are physically able.

Here are the details.

In a survey of drivers conducted by Truckers News and our sister publication Overdrive, almost a third of respondents said they haven’t yet decided when or if they’ll retire. Almost the same number said they’ll keep driving as long as they are healthy. Details of the survey found:

  • 29% of all respondents said they have not yet decided when they’ll hang up their keys. Breaking that down, 29% of company drivers said they hadn’t decided while 32% of leased owner-operators said they hadn’t made up their minds
  • 26% of all respondents said they’ll drive as long as they’re healthy. Twenty-five percent of company drivers had that outlook while 28% of leased owner-operators did
  • 15% of all respondents said they’ll retire when they turn 65
  • 13% said they’ll retire at 67
  • 10% said they’ll stop driving when they reach 70

What’s keeping older truckers on the road? Fully 40% said they don’t plan on retiring because they like their jobs. (Company drivers: 39%. Leased owner-operators: 42%)

There was also practical reason many will keep driving: money and/or benefits. Overall, 37% said they need they money so they’ll stay on the road. (Company drivers: 36%. Leased owner-operators:41%) Some 17% of all respondents said they need health insurance and they get it through their work. (Company drivers: 19%. Leased owner-operators: 5%)

Truckers in our survey were not much different than the rest of working Americans: 66% of them said they have not saved enough money so they can retire. That’s true for 64% of company drivers and 76% of leased owner-operators.

Interestingly, 13% said they didn’t know if they had saved enough so they could retire.

About half of truckers have a retirement program through their driving job. Half of all company drivers have a retirement program through their work, but only 15% of leased owner-operators do.

The TD Ameritrade survey found 28% of Americans aged 60 to 69 have less than $50,000 saved for retirement. For people from 70 to 79 years old, 20% have $50,000 or less saved for retirement.

Here’s who responded to our survey:

  • 82% are company drivers
  • 52 % drive over-the-road and 38% drive regionally
  • 28% drive 75,001 to 100,000 miles and 24% drive 100,001 to 125,000 miles per year
  • 61% have driven for more than 20 years

(It’s worth noting that this survey was done about mid-way through the year after the first wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus struck and before the freight surge that has occurred.)