August 25, 2023

Why a lot of drivers say they don’t care about National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter presented by AIT. In this issue, do truckers care about truck driver appreciation week, green shoots in the market and more.

Unpopular opinion

“You mean the week where the office staff gets to eat bbq all week in the name of truckers? Lol” Taylor Barker aka American Trucker

NTDAW is coming The American Trucking Associations’ annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week kicks off Sept. 10. The ATA says it’s “an important time for America to thank all the professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in undertaking one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs.”

Why do so many drivers hate it? — I think most office people would be surprised to learn just how contentious this holiday can be. I know I was when I first started talking to drivers about it. 

Why? It turns out, in many cases it just ends up being a cookout for the office while drivers are stuck out on the road under a load.

Marketing Not only do some drivers feel like they don’t benefit in any meaningful way from NTDAW, but some even feel like they’re used to help promote their company’s image. Veteran driver Kerry Smith says, “Years ago, it seemed a little better, but now, it’s all lip service.”

Can it be better? — It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that a “holiday” spun up by a group that represents carriers (not drivers) benefits the office over the wheel. However, let’s say we were to take it seriously; to make it meaningful, how do you do that?

Truckers’ top-three concerns usually tend to rotate among pay clarity, poor communication and parking. If you want those 58% of drivers (*according to my X poll of drivers) to feel appreciated, inroads toward improving working conditions would go a lot further than giving a trucker a pen and a bite-size KitKat.

How should companies make drivers feel appreciated? Sound off! Email me your answer.

Green shoots?

Rejections and used trucks — Don’t look now but we may be starting to recover from the freight recession. Despite August typically being a slow month, we’ve seen a rise in tender rejections as capacity is starting to react to freight volumes.

What’s most interesting about that chart, though, is how closely related tender rejections are to used truck prices. While used truck prices haven’t fallen back to mid-2021 prices, they’re on their way … but not for long if rejections continue their uptick.

If you’re in the market for a used rig, we’re getting close to the bottom on those prices. If you’re underwater on a loan for one of those trucks from 16 months ago, you won’t be going deeper for much longer.

Spot — The dry van spot market has been stable for the past month, sitting between $2.22-$2.24. While stability is nice, that flatline looks in need of a defibrillator. But, with hurricane season, holiday freight and holiday e-commerce all on the horizon, we may see a turnaround.

It’s been slow to grow, though, as we’re still where we started at $2.24 at the end of July, and so far the projected jump of 6 cents in spot rates hasn’t panned out.

Meme of the week

Reed Loustalot

WTT Friday

NASA’s moon mission logistics and the Please Advise Summit On Friday’s episode of WHAT THE TRUCK?!?, I’m talking to NASA about the logistics of its Artemis mission to the moon. We’re talking to the ladies and gentlemen building the Orion capsules.

Then it’s the first-ever Please Advise Summit, where Reed Loustalot, Dominick Tullo, Chase Osborne and Garrett Allen break down the biggest supply chain issues on Earth. 

Plus, news, weirdness and much more.  

Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWaves LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.

Now on demand

How bull hauling works and Yellow’s billion-dollar bankruptcy bids

Who is paying for Yellow’s bankruptcy; freight recession report; and a highway angel

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The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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