Survey: 2018 good for truckers; most expect 2019 to be too

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Updated Jan 6, 2019
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2018 Year In Trucking 400The results of a recent year-end poll by Truckers News show most truckers had a pretty good year in 2018 and even more are optimistic about 2019. The poll also found the vast majority of truckers expect to make more money in 2019 than they did in 2018 and fully three-quarters of them have no intention of changing jobs in the new year.

But, of course, 2018 was not a bed of roses for every driver and neither is everyone wildly enthusiastic about the year ahead. Not surprisingly there was discontent over regulatory issues, including and especially the mandated use of electronic logging devices.

How was 2018 for you as a truck driver?

  • Great 18.49%
  • Good 40.42%
  • Fair 23.53%
  • Awful 7.56%

We gave drivers a chance to comment on the year gone by and what made them feel the way they do. Many had something to say about ELDs. For example:

ELD (is) ruining the short haul for us.

Too much of trips lost because of the mandatory elog with the inflexible clock.

Too much of money lost because of the elog, more than one time I wasn’t able to get the second pickup on the truck because of just 10 or 20 minutes of time missing, and I have on those days not even seven hours driven but was waiting to be empty and then to get loaded.

Freight was slow an ELDs kicking our asses.

ELDs put pressure on you when driving. You are always fighting three clicks: 11-hour rule, 14-hour rule, and the 39-minute break.

ELD caused more time away from home and resting in my own bed. Pay loss of trips taking twice as long for the same amount of pay. Increased inspections added up to lost time spread throughout the year.

Rates went up and freight was plentiful. Truck parking situation was not addressed. ELDs accentuated this problem.

Drivers also had lots to say about changing jobs, finding a company that values them and making more money. Those comments included:

Got away from the OTR life and went back to driving a dump truck, hourly + home + no ELDs drive maybe 100 miles a day, stress level went way down, pay is more than I could make if I drove 5,000 miles a week in a semi, this is why older OTR drivers are quitting, no money to be made anymore, and we’re wiser and aren’t about to get screwed.

Freight was abundant, got three raises, leased to a great company (my opinion), just a good year all the way around.

Finally working for a company that treats a driver good.

I’ve finally made the change that’s been 32 years in the making. I’ve become an owner-operator for a company I can call home.

New and MUCH better job, better pay, fewer hours, same start time every day, moved out of parents house and into own again.

I have a great place to work and they pay well.

Plenty of loads, pay increase, new truck.

Finally found a company that is geared towards the driver.

I was running the route I wanted to and ran when I wanted to.

Got raises and my company listened when I had suggestions and complaints.

The money is great. The home time is perfect. The insurance couldn’t be better. I have no complaints about 2018 as a driver.

And, optimism wasn’t just about making more money and better driving conditions. For at least one trucker, it was more personal. They said, “I met the love of my life and got engaged!”

Things weren’t necessarily that good for some drivers. In fact, many felt the problems of previous years continued in 2018. Here’s what some said:

Companies are still unsure how they want to show us they value our hard work which makes them profitable. Our employer made some huge personnel mistakes with drivers and they have yet to figure out how to fix those mistakes. This private fleet carrier seems to be in a state of “1 step forward, 2 steps backward”. I feel 2018 should have been another great year, not just good.

Well, the big guys only bigger. Washington keeps coming up with more regulations to keep drivers from driving.

I have a group of customers that refuse to embrace technology to help keep my truck moving instead of waiting at a shipper.

I’m getting tired and lots of medical problems.

More government overreach than needed. Truck problems galore.

Too many rules, not enough parking.

Fuel prices. Can’t get ahead. Feel like I am working for nothing.

Stupid 4 wheeler drivers with no respect for anyone and don’t know the driving rules and regulations.

Made more $ than (the) previous year. But still underpaid.

The burdensome regulations take the joy out of the profession. Too much big brother.

Fed up with the constant lack of parking, the unwillingness of the government to use common sense and listen to drivers, the rudeness of drivers.

How optimistic are you about 2019?

  • Very optimistic 29.41%
  • Mostly optimistic 28.57 %
  • Optimistic  23.53%
  • Not optimistic 18.49%

Most of those who responded to our poll think 2019 is going to be a good year. Their reasons vary, ranging from getting a new truck to the hopes of regulatory reform. Here are a few of their comments:

Moving forward with family plans. Making more with current job.

Hopefully, the company will get more lanes to drive as they bidding on.

Hopefully, regulations will be modified in (a) manner to benefit drivers.

Government still (talking about) playing with (hours of service) but optimistic about 2019.

I am feeling better and I believe trucking will have a better year

Because I have a great job, a great family, and I have a great life. Of course, having a great life makes everything else go better.

It seems like the economy is moving in the right direction which means a lot more freight to be moved.

Every year is better. I learn something new all the time, which helps me grow.

Rumors of more money coming our way soon, pool of drivers is getting smaller and turnover is hurting … so I’m worth more!

I have a new pay raise of over $3+/hr raise effective the 2nd of January and another raise at the end of January. That’s just January!

New horizons and a new lady!

Of course, the glass that is 2019 is half empty and not half full for some. They said:

Unless all the adults can stop all the fighting with the children in Washington I doubt this will change.

I’m set for the downturn in the economy that’s coming.

(The) ecomomy is slowing down

Freight rates are down. Fuel isn’t. Same ol’ story.

I don’t see anything changing. It just keeps getting worse every year.

There’s a good chance that the Democrats will screw things up if they can.

I cannot find a decent wage as a company driver. $500 a week does not pay the bills.

Trucking has become a joke.

A little concerned about the economy slowing down.

Much more stupid regulations are to come, and no common sense anywhere in the rulemaking.

And, then there was this:

How can I predict what next year holds? Could be worse, could be better. It’s life, ebbs, and flows.

Good or bad, one thing for certain about the year ahead, it will be filled with change. Some of what went on in 2018 set the stage for further changes. Then again, there will be midcourse corrections to be made that no one can foresee. And, not all will be large, industry-sweeping changes. Many will be personal. That’s why we asked, “What one thing do you plan to change in 2019?”

Take more time off work.

Some budget habits.

More time with family.

(Fewer) hours on the road.

Amount of $ in my bank account.

Putting more money away and downsizing my truck.

Become more profitable and get healthier.

Moving from Arkansas to Colorado. Will change from OTR, to local or regional.

Improve my personal health.

Home every day.

That our company is able to stand alone.

Work smarter.

Not running east coast at all.

Eating healthier on the road.

Hopefully, lose weight.

Walk farther every day possible. 35-40minutes. To become 40-45min. It is easy, just get up and out of driver seat and walk every day.

Go on a real vacation.

Get paid what I am worth, I hope.

Being with family.

Consistency of my job. Maybe reduce time out on road.

Solidify exit from driving and clarify retirement options.

Work closer to home because the roads aren’t safe to travel on anymore more.

Learn more about regulations.

Make more money.

My attitude.

Perhaps transition from company driver to lease/operator.

Eating habits.

Work less, but only when I want to.

Get even better at picking my loads.

To say out less. 45 days without home time is too much.

My personal life; be more active in my faith through God.

Be calmer.

I plan on adding more money to my for 401K.

Keep upgrading my tractor.

Buy real estate.

Hunker down and hold the line on falling freight rates, try to just hold on.

Slow down and not push hard.

Quit driving.

I’m quitting smoking on the January first.

Get off the road. My career started as a professional firefighter, when I retired I turned to trucking. Looking back I felt safer running into burning buildings!

To scrap my 2011 model year Truck and get a pre 1999. model year Truck with a solely mechanical controlled engine.

Try to be a nicer more understanding person.

Might consider overhauling my 2004 Cat, with over 2,350,000 on the truck and 1,250,000 on the first overhaul.

Be more professional and understand how lucky I am.

Try not to be so negative and surround myself with more positive energy!

Try to keep more of the money I earn and put more of it away for old age — lol.

My lifestyle to be healthier.

Do you expect to make more money in 2019?

  • Yes 66.39%
  • No 33.61%

Do you expect to change jobs in 2019?

  • Yes 25.21%
  • No 74.79%

What kind of driver are you

  • Company driver 69.75%
  • Owner-operator 22.69%
  • Private fleet: 4.2%
  • Other 3.36%