Company drivers primarily motivated by job security and stability

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Updated Dec 7, 2021
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Truckers say the top three things motivating them to be company drivers are:

  • Job security and stability
  • Income
  • Healthcare/retirement savings

For those who chose to become owner-operators, the leading motivators are:

  • Independence/ability to set their own hours
  • Schedule/flexibility
  • Choice of routes/length of haul

Those are some of the findings in a new study undertaken by the American Transportation Research Institute. The goal was to look at "the differing motivators for why truck drivers choose to be a company driver or an owner-operator/independent contractor. These findings were released Wednesday by ATRI.

The study comes as some states -- especially California -- seek to reclassify owner-operators as employees. It also looks at the outlooks of women truckers compared to their male counterparts. ATRI said its research includes responses from over 2,000 professional truck drivers, including two-thirds who are owner-operators/independent contractors.

The analysis also examined the pay models used with company drivers and owner-operators/independent contractors and driver satisfaction levels with each. 

Company drivers and owner-operators/independent contractors. ranked Income as an important motivator. ATRI said it found 68.9% of company drivers and 80.1% of owner-operators/independent contractors indicated being "very satisfied" to "satisfied" with their income. 

Over 50% of owner-operators/independent contractors reported net incomes of over $75,000 in the previous year while nearly 70 percent of company drivers indicated their annual wages were in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. 

A large percentage -- 73% -- of owner-operators/independent contractors expected they would experience significant decreases in their job satisfaction and annual income -- 68.3% -- if they were reclassified as a company driver.

Company drivers were asked if they aspired to become owner-operators, and fewer than one in five indicated they did. Among those who did want to become owner-operators, 84.9% believed they would see an increase in income, and 71.4% expected to see an increase in job satisfaction.

Less than a third of company drivers who indicated they had been owner-operators in the past indicated their income had decreased since becoming a company driver, and 20.3% indicated that their job satisfaction had decreased.