3 Steps to Ensure a Great In-Cab Driver Experience

Driver retention remains a top concern for trucking fleets as a tight labor market, large sign-on bonuses, and record-high wages drive turnover rates by incentivizing drivers to change carriers often. However, recent studies show experienced drivers are willing to stay longer at companies with a good work-life balance and wellness benefits, despite the potential for a larger paycheck elsewhere. This proves it’s not just about the money, but also about working for a company that cares for its drivers.

For fleet managers, prioritizing driver satisfaction and well-being is crucial. In addition to boosting morale and productivity, a positive in-cab driver experience contributes to driver retention and overall fleet success. Forward-thinking fleet managers implement a variety of strategies to improve their in-cab experience, knowing that when happy drivers talk to their peers it helps their fleets recruit—and retain—top driving talent.

Here are three ways to improve your fleet's driver experience:

1. Invest in Driver Safety and Comfort

One of the fundamental aspects of a great in-cab driver experience is a safe and comfortable environment. Talking to your drivers about their preferred comfort features is an easy way to get feedback on your current setup and create a better space for them to enjoy. 

A More Comfortable Ride

Consider investing in ergonomic seating, adjustable controls, and automatic climate control systems to optimize driver comfort during long hours on the road. Based on the types of routes you run, you may also want to increase cab and sleeper storage, add refrigerators and microwaves, and offer more bunk customization options. New technologies for cab heaters and parked HVAC systems are additional solutions for keeping your drivers comfortable even when they’re off the road. 

Advanced Safety Features

Fleet managers should also prioritize advanced safety features such as collision warning systems, lane departure alerts, and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Air disc braking systems offer significantly shorter stopping distances, while electronic stability control systems help prevent rollovers and mitigate understeer/oversteer conditions leading to loss of control. According to the FMCSA, in 2020, the cost of large truck crashes ranged from $25 billion for property-only damage to $60 billion for fatality crashes. The money you proactively invest in safety features may help you avoid significant expenses resulting from accidents and could even save lives. 

The Benefits of Camera Technology

A growing trend for commercial fleets involves utilizing camera technology. While some drivers may initially have negative reactions to cameras, forward- and cab-facing cameras actually help protect them in the event of a crash. Camera footage may exonerate drivers from wrongdoing—preventing job loss and wrongful litigation—and also l assists with training and performance management by ensuring more consistent review standards. Once drivers understand these benefits, they’ll be more likely to accept the presence of cameras in their cabs. 

Providing a safe and comfortable ride empowers drivers to feel more secure and focus on their daily tasks, leading to a better overall experience. And making their experience more enjoyable in small ways adds up to big improvements in job satisfaction and retention.

2. Embrace Technology and Automation

While no one enjoys busywork, completing certain tasks every shift is not only important for fleet maintenance but often required by law. The good news is today’s top fleet telematics tools make daily tasks easier and more intuitive, enabling drivers to get back on the road more quickly. Additionally, in-cab driver control centers consolidate frequently used apps and reduce distractions while driving, making your drivers’ jobs safer and more enjoyable. 

More Efficient DVIRs

Digital tools like tablets help your drivers complete their Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) more efficiently and seamlessly communicate with other fleet teams—like the back office and maintenance group—while maintaining compliance with state and government requirements. Easier digital communication across your company also makes it easier to identify, schedule, and resolve needed repairs, improving preventative maintenance for your equipment. When drivers know their rigs are safe and optimized, they enjoy the peace of mind that increases job satisfaction. 

Better Communication on the Road

Distracted driving is dangerous driving, but sometimes the back office has to reach drivers when they’re on the road. In-cab messaging tools sort and prioritize communications—from weather alerts and emergency notifications to route changes and more—and even read aloud urgent messages so drivers never have to take their eyes off the road. Other notifications can also be silenced once the truck passes a certain speed and saved until the truck is parked. Sending private or group chats directly from your back office to drivers’ tablets makes staying connected easier than ever. 

Simpler Compliance

Drivers often have to keep in mind several compliance requirements while operating their vehicles, including hours of service (HOS) standards. Digital HOS trackers simplify the process by allowing drivers to switch on- and off-duty at the touch of a button. Unassigned drive time (UDT) alerts and visible statuses prevent drivers from exceeding scheduled hours, removing stress from their daily tasks. Empowering your drivers with all the tools they need to maintain compliance while on the clock gives them one less thing to worry about and encourages them to stay with your fleet for the future. 

3. Offer Continued Training and Development

Even the most experienced drivers may need a refresher on how to best leverage their in-cab tools. Take time to explain vehicle updates, technology changes, and new features so your drivers will continue to enjoy and improve their daily drives. Career development opportunities and recognition programs are great tools for supporting driver retention, showing drivers you care about their job fulfillment, and appreciating their hard work. 

Career Advancement Opportunities

While some drivers may be satisfied in their current roles, others may want to advance their careers or explore different options. Providing a support system for these drivers goes a long way in building loyalty to your fleet. For example, business administration or economics classes promote career opportunities in logistics, and computer classes related to automation technology or electronic logging devices (ELDs) open doors to jobs in your maintenance or support departments. Consider ways to further their continuing education efforts, such as tuition assistance or career paths that align with their goals. 

Technology Refreshers and Updates

When used properly, new in-cab technologies have great potential to make a driver’s day more efficient and safer. It’s important to ensure your drivers feel comfortable asking for a refresher or additional training on your fleet telematics tools if they need it. Offering virtual training like video modules to complete during rest stops is one way to make this simple. Other tools like step-by-step training presentations, user guides, and built-in learning management systems help your drivers feel confident and up to date on all their devices. Make sure your telematics provider offers a dedicated technology trainer to reinforce your efforts on behalf of your drivers. 

Creative Support and Recognition

There are fun ways to think outside the box when it comes to stepping up your driver retention game. Whether you’re running an internal performance competition with a great prize, sending gifts to acknowledge important life events like marriage or the birth of a child, or distributing gift cards as a sign of appreciation, small acts of kindness have a big impact. All employees want to feel seen and know they’re part of something larger than themselves, and showing support —both in and out of the cab—reminds them how much you care. Creating a great work culture also motivates your drivers to talk to their peers and helps you attract new talent seeking a welcoming work environment. 

Winning the Fight Against Turnover

Fleets that prioritize their in-cab driver experience stand to benefit from improved driver retention, increased productivity, and enhanced customer satisfaction. Investing in comfort and safety, embracing technology, and providing training and development opportunities equips fleet managers with powerful strategies for promoting driver satisfaction, well-being, and success. By following these steps, you’ll have what it takes to turn the tide against high turnover rates while keeping the best and brightest drivers on board for the long haul.

Learn more about how Platform Science helps you improve your fleet's operations from the back office to the driver’s cab at platformscience.com.