How Important is the Driver-Dispatcher Relationships?

Written by a trucking company president.

We should see more of a partnership between dispatchers and drivers.

To be fair to dispatchers, most have 35 to 50 drivers under their wing. Keeping that many people moving and happy is not an easy task. Each driver is a different personality and all want to make a decent living and to be able to get home on a regular basis.

Drivers only see their own little part of the planet. Their wants and needs can be different from dispatchers. Dispatchers can go home after working 8 hours. Drivers are essentially on call 24/7. The nature of this business forces drivers to work irregular hours that may not always agree with their body clock. Delays at shippers can really impact a drivers ability to earn a good living and his attitude.

There are some little things that affect a driver, and their attitude that those in the office will not be able to appreciate or fully understand without having driven themselves.

Simply finding a restroom or place to get something to eat, other than fast food, can be a major issue due to the problem with parking. Pilot and Love’s are two of the larger truck stop chains, but only offer fast food. That is not a healthy way for drivers to live. The only other options are TA and Petro, but parking can be a problem, depending on the time of day and region of the country.

There are Flying J’s, but menu options have become more limited since they were acquired by Pilot. Most now have Denny’s, if they still even have a restaurant. Drivers are often looked down upon because they may not have had a shower in a day or so. Most drivers want to shower every day, but due to time constraints and shipper demands, that may not always be possible.

At one time truck drivers were very respected in this country. Things have certainly changed over the last 30 years. Many now look down on drivers, some with good reason. I think that is one problem between dispatchers and drivers. Truck drivers are shown little respect by much of society. They expect to at least have respect from the company that they help support and earn their livelihood.

I find it ironic that those responsible for making this country work, receive so little respect. Shippers may tie drivers up unnecessarily for hours and then want them off their property and have unrealistic delivery expectations. Law enforcement at all levels look at drivers as a steady source of revenue. Federal government continues to enact useless new regulations and change existing ones seemingly just because they can. Dispatchers have high expectations from drivers and have little or no knowledge of what goes on in the day of an over the road driver.

Most drivers will average from 450-650 miles per day. In only one day a driver can leave Pennsylvania and be in Indiana or Illinois in one day. He can unload, reload and be in Georgia the next day. Most people find being able to drive that many miles in a day unfathomable. Yet, drivers do it every day.

There are two professions that have mostly been responsible for building this country. The first is sales. Nothing happens until something is sold. It doesn’t matter how well a manufacturer makes his products, until someone sells them, they are just a great idea. The other profession is the truck driver. You can make a good product. You can sell a good product. But, until the customer receives the product, no one can profit. Trucking is literally the backbone of this nation. Most people give little thought as to how products got to their supermarket, car dealer or restaurant. Truck drivers have brought the nails that hold their homes together, the car they drive, the food they consume and even the clothes on their backs. Drivers only ask for a little respect for their efforts.

Dan Baker dispatcher driver relations training to help your company improve on this very topic.