National Truck Driver Appreciation Week: How to Celebrate Year-Round
September 10-16, 2023 marks the annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), a nationwide celebration of the 3.6 million drivers who carry the weight of American commerce and quality of life. As highlighted by the American Trucking Associations’ NTDAW website, more than 80% of U.S. communities rely exclusively on trucks to meet their freight transportation needs, meaning the impact of truck drivers is felt in every corner of the country.
Instituted in 1988, NTDAW gives trucking companies, manufacturers, producers, and industry suppliers the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of drivers by hosting special events, honoring safety achievements, announcing new incentive programs, and more. Families of drivers are often invited to special celebrations that include awards, food and drink, and company swag.
While fleets use NTDAW to celebrate and thank their drivers, many also participate in ongoing recognition and retention-supporting activities throughout the year. Below are three ways to ensure your driver appreciation activities benefit your team during this week and in the future:
1. Build a Driver-First Community
According to industry experts, the trucking industry’s recent increase in turnover has largely resulted from drivers moving from company to company rather than leaving the industry. This “churn” has led to higher salaries and sign-on bonuses, as well as a tight labor market. However, private companies focused on driver benefits and corporate culture have actually seen an improvement in retention. Stats suggest that the most experienced and talented drivers value a good work-life balance and safe work environment over a potential increase in salary from a competitor.
There are many ways to show your drivers you care about them. Offering more balanced routes, plenty of time at home, good benefits (like 401(k) plans, holiday and vacation time, and bereavement), and advanced in-cab safety features helps attract—and retain—the best and brightest driving talent. Ongoing training—both in-person and virtual —also demonstrates you care about drivers’ career development and safety.
Creating a driver-friendly environment outside the cab boosts your corporate culture, too. From internal communications recognizing drivers’ life events to tokens of appreciation, seemingly small gestures go a long way in proving to your drivers that you care about their personal lives. A virtual or real-world “Wall of Fame” at your headquarters also makes it easy to celebrate milestones and drivers who go above and beyond. Gamified “competitions” with attractive prizes are another great way to make daily work more fun while helping improve performance metrics. Small but meaningful efforts help ensure your drivers feel seen and appreciated year-round.
2. Celebrate Your Million Milers
One of the most exciting ways for fleets to celebrate NTDAW is by recognizing their Million Milers, those drivers who have reached the elite milestone of 1 million accident-free dispatched miles. Many fleets use NTDAW events as an opportunity to invite drivers to their local terminals to recognize their Million Mile drivers through awards, gifts, and, in some cases, a new truck with customized paint job, personalized features, and more.
For example, Werner Enterprises—who recently announced that it now employs more than 2,000 professional Million Milers—takes extra steps to ensure their top drivers are properly recognized. Members of their Million Mile Drivers program receive a new truck with personalized amenities, as well as various gifts, like a gold watch and ID badge, a cash bonus, aluminum mud flap weights, and their name on the recognition wall at Werner Park and all Werner terminals. Drivers also receive additional recognition when they reach 2 and 3 million safe miles.
3. Give Their Tech an Upgrade
Another way to show driver appreciation year-round is by leveraging technology that makes their jobs safer and more efficient. Today’s top fleet management software features virtual tools for driving operational efficiency, including additional add-on apps specifically designed to simplify inspections, reporting, and compliance for drivers.
Specific tools target areas that most often can cause pain in your drivers’ daily work. For example:
Improved Fuel Efficiency
Fuel management software can reduce fleet fuel expenses by up to 10% annually through in-cab driver coaching with real-time advice for practicing behaviors that minimize fuel usage. Specialized navigation tools deliver easy-to-follow directions to your drivers' dashboards, ensuring they always take the safest and most fuel-efficient routes. Real-time updates keep drivers informed of weather and traffic patterns—making it easier to plan fuel stops—while custom points of interest enable you to plan routes based on fuel stations and other important locations.
More Efficient Maintenance
Inspection and maintenance software reduces downtime by catching problems before they become serious issues, improving operational efficiency and safety for your drivers. For example, software that remotely identifies all active fault codes and lamps in real time helps you prioritize and schedule maintenance. Sending real-time alerts —including critical low tire pressure, high temperature, and fast leak conditions—directly to drivers’ mobile apps provides greater visibility while keeping drivers safer on their routes, supporting your fleet’s longevity through preventative maintenance.
Easier Safety and Compliance
DVIR tools streamline inspection reports with defect recording and photo capture via drivers’ tablets, while easy-to-use electronic logs help drivers track their hours, meal breaks, and off-duty statuses to comply with federal and state regulatory mandates. Innovative fatigue meters use predictive analysis based on HOS logs and drivers’ past driving schedules to identify potentially dangerous patterns, sending real-time notifications to keep drivers safe and alert.
Taking these steps in your daily operations helps ensure your drivers feel valued and appreciated all year long, not just during NTDAW. Recognizing your drivers is good for business and your corporate culture, as well. Happier and healthier drivers are key to supporting the U.S. economy and infrastructure, and their value cannot be overstated.
Platform Science joins our partner fleets across the U.S. in celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. We're honored to participate in celebrations around the country and look forward to continuing our mission to make trucking smarter and safer through innovative technologies and partnerships.
Learn more about Platform Science and our suite of tools for fleets.