Truck driver retention is key to a healthy fleet, but grueling schedules and poor work conditions can drive up turnover rates. More and more transportation companies are starting to use mobile devices and apps to improve communication and quality of life for truck drivers on the road. By using smartphones, tablets and wearables, drivers can stay connected and happier in their professional and personal lives.

Turnover rates in the trucking industry are much higher than most occupations, as reported in a 2019 survey by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). In the survey of trucking executives, they cited driver retention as one of the industry’s top 10 concerns.

The annualized turnover rate at large truckload carriers rose to 92 percent in 2020, while the rate at smaller truckload carriers rose to 74 percent. COVID-19 definitely had an impact on these numbers, but the industry already had high turnover rates, for many reasons.

For one, truck driving is a unique occupation because of the long hours spent isolated in the truck cab. Many truckers are also paid by the mile, not by time they spend on the job. As freight demand rises, the need for truck drivers increases, and that healthy competition is driving higher wages, which also affects turnover rate as truckers switch to a competitor who will pay them better.

Truck drivers deserve all the support they can get. Secure mobile devices and fleet management apps can address some of the top driver concerns — like improved communications and a focus on health and safety — and thereby improve driver retention. Here are three areas of the driver experience that mobile technology can help with:

1. Culture and communications

Dispatcher-driver interactions tend to happen in time-sensitive situations that prioritize operations over interpersonal relationships. Mobile apps can help foster a company-wide culture that respects drivers as professionals and helps organizations move beyond an “us and them” dynamic.

Perhaps the best way to engage a driver is to keep them moving. Any time a truck spends waiting idly for the next load or a backhaul is time wasted. With fleet telematics-equipped devices providing a truck’s location, planners can confidently predict each truck’s workflow and assign a return load before the trailer has finished offloading, and complete faster relays and interchanges.

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With rugged smartphones and tablets specifically built for frontline workers, like Samsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro and the Galaxy Tab Active3, delivery drivers can streamline everything from picking, packing and sorting to proof of delivery (POD). Mobility can go a long way toward optimizing transportation workflows, which simplifies and enhances the driver experience by removing barriers to productivity.

Mobile devices can also help drivers reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks such as recording hours of service to meet the ELD mandate. They also reduce the burden of other duties such as driver inspection vehicle reports and International Fuel Tax Agreement compliance.

Wearable devices can help drivers communicate more efficiently, with information and alerts delivered right to their wrist. Removing unnecessary interruptions and slashing the paperwork load lets drivers focus on what they do best.

2. Health and safety

Someone who dials a mobile phone while they’re driving is much more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event, such as a collision, near-collision or unintentional lane deviation. Of the 36,096 people who died in car accidents on U.S. roadways in 2019, 3,142 of them were involved in distraction-affected crashes. That’s 8.7 percent of all vehicle-related fatalities in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In-cab mobile technology, like a mounted Galaxy Tab Active3, can help truckers drive safely while they’re on the road. For example, using hands-free communication like a voice assistant allows for better driver focus, and route optimization apps on the device can keep drivers right on track without having to worry about adjusting course mid-drive.

By the nature of their job, truckers spend many hours behind the wheel. Smartwatches provide pertinent fitness information, such as physical activity and heart rate monitoring, to help drivers stay on top of their health.

Drivers can also use these mobile devices to stay connected with each other. Online trucker communities provide user-generated information on truck parking, clean restroom facilities and offer travel center discounts. Sharing tips and stories with other drivers can help make life on the road less stressful and ease feelings of isolation.

3. Secure mobile devices and personal use

Corporate fleet owners may hesitate to give off-duty drivers access to their mobile devices for security reasons, but this simple switch can boost driver retention. To address security concerns, fleet owners should consider devices specifically designed with security in mind. For example, every Samsung device is built with Samsung Knox integrated to isolate, encrypt and secure data, allowing fleet owners to manage and protect corporate and customer information.

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With the Knox Suite, fleet managers can also create a secure container to protect corporate apps, network access and data. Drivers can then access entertainment apps to stream movies and TV shows, check their email and social media and even video chat with their family, while business apps are kept entirely separate.

When allowing drivers to use corporate devices on their downtime, they may burn through mobile data quickly. As such, some fleet owners may choose to limit cellular network access to corporate use only. But when comparing the relatively small monthly cost of a mobile plan compared to the significant business impact of driver turnover, forward-thinking transportation leaders may be well advised to rethink this policy.

By equipping truck drivers with mobile devices, like the Galaxy TabActive3, businesses can improve retention and ensure fleets are prepared to compete in the future. Streamlining communications, helping drivers monitor their health and even allowing devices to be used for personal apps can improve the overall driver experience and increase retention across the industry.

Planning how to increase your fleet efficiency might seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn how a mobile ELD can reduce your operating costs — and improve driver retention. Or, discover additional innovative transportation mobility solutions from Samsung, purpose-built for drivers’ unusual work environment.

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