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Big Rigs Get the Comforts of Home to Help Truckers Close Driver Gap

Transport topics

“Finding drivers is a central challenge for U.S. trucking companies. The industry will need to make almost 1 million new hires in the next decade to keep pace with growing cargo demand and a graying workforce, American Trucking Associations estimated in 2014. Drivers in many fleets average more than 50 years old.

“The sleeper amenities are how fleet owners fight to get drivers,” said Linda Caffee, 54, who logs about 145,000 miles a year with her husband. “This is basically our home.”

“They drive for Landstar System Inc., whose business model is built on driver-owned vehicles. The cab of their custom-built Freightliner boasts a sink, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, ceiling fan and a bed that folds into a dining table. She used to have to cook meals in a crockpot on the floor with a bungee cord holding down the lid. Companies including U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc., Con-way Inc. and Celadon Group Inc. raised pay last year to help woo new drivers. But truck owners can’t always afford higher labor expenses, according to ATA. A heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver, on average, made $41,930 in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Truck fleets need to give their drivers nicer amenities to attract and retain those drivers,” said President Brian Callan of specialized sleeper-cab maker Bolt Custom Trucks & Manufacturing. “That leads to what we do for a living.”

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All of these new amenities require more electrical power – a service that Shorepower provides. Standard batteries and even dedicated battery APUs simply cannot keep up with all of the power demands, particularly in extreme weather.