New Research from ATRI Quantifies Truck Driver Motivations and Levels of Satisfaction


Contact: Rebecca Brewster


(404) 247-8787

December 1, 2021

Arlington, Virginia – Today the American Transportation Research Institute released the results of its analysis examining the differing motivators for why truck drivers choose to be a Company Driver or an Owner-Operator/Independent Contractor (OO/IC).  This analysis was prioritized by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee to better understand the role of OO/IC in the trucking industry, and how legislative attempts to reclassify OO/IC as Company Drivers would impact those individuals and supply chains in general.

ATRI’s research includes respondent data from over 2,000 professional truck drivers, of whom more than 2/3rds are OO/IC.  When presented with identical factors that motivated their decision to be a Company Driver or OO/IC, Company Drivers indicated their top three motivators were Job Security/Stability, Income, and Healthcare/Retirement Savings.  Among OO/IC, the top three motivating factors were Independence/Ability to Set Hours, Schedule/Flexibility, and Choice of Routes/Length of Haul. 

The analysis also examined the various compensation models used with Company Drivers and OO/IC and driver satisfaction levels with each.  Both Company Drivers and OO/IC ranked Income as an important motivator and in terms of satisfaction, 68.9 percent of Company Drivers and 80.1 percent of OO/IC indicated being Very Satisfied/Satisfied with their income.  Over 50 percent of OO/IC in ATRI’s dataset reported net incomes of over $75,000 in the previous year while nearly 70 percent of Company Drivers indicated their annual wages fell in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.  A large percentage of OO/IC expected they would experience significant decreases in their job satisfaction (73.0%) and annual income (68.3%) if they were reclassified as a Company Driver. 

“ATRI’s analysis validates what we know to be true with our professional truck drivers – those who choose to be owner/operators are often motivated by the desire to be in charge of their schedule and work environment,” said Eric Fuller, president & CEO of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc.  “Understanding what motivates our company drivers and owner/operators allows us to better tailor offerings as we continue to focus on recruitment and retention.”

In addition to examining the differences between Company Drivers and OO/IC, ATRI’s analysis also offers insight into the different motivating factors for female truck drivers versus their male counterparts.

A copy of the full report is available here.

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

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