One Oregon State University professor thinks so.
Hector Vergara, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State, believes the “point-to-point” system used today is why there is such a dramatic drop in the number of truck drivers. Drivers taking their fleet from point A to point B sometimes travel across the entire country, and are gone for weeks or months at a time.
Vergara thinks a “hub-and-spoke” method could modernize the way the trucking business is handled and how it is conveyed by drivers.
These hubs, like those used in airline travel, will keep drivers in "their regions" and allow them to stay closer to home, driving shorter hours.
With suggested hubs in major cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis and New York, drivers will be able to return home more frequently, passing their loads to other drivers within the company at the halfway point, keeping loads full.
The International Institute of Transportation Resource in Creswell, Oregon, states that 40 percent of new truck drivers leave during their first few months of employment. Vergara thinks the new relay system would keep drivers happy, helping the trucking companies keep their employees.
This more structured schedule and environment will not only help retain drivers, but gain young drivers who would be able to spend time with their families at home more often.
One company agrees. Billy Dover at Leavitt's Freight Service in Springfield, Oregon, said trucking companies will have to do something to have a more organized and stable work environment. “This structure will promote less stress, better health, and gain younger drivers," he said.
However, Dover goes on to say that many trucking companies transport specialty loads and this system would not work for them because of the size and weight of the loads, as well as permits needed to park loads in strategic locations.
This system has variables, but would work for larger companies such as Target, Walmart or UPS that need distribution facilities and have the trucks and drivers to implement such a system.
“With the turnover rate at nearly 100 percent, the trucking companies have to do something to keep their drivers,” said Vergara. “With every new driver hired, another driver leaves because of being unhappy with the work environment.”