American Transportation Research Institute examined the differing motivators for why truck drivers choose to be a Company Driver or an Owner-Operator/Independent Contractor (OO/IC).

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.

The trucking industry has long-relied on OO/IC to transport goods across the U.S. The use of OO/IC offers one solution to the fluctuating demand for freight transportation and provides an opportunity for drivers to have autonomy over the services they offer. In recent years, new legislation pertaining to employment status classification has been introduced in various states that threatens the eligibility of drivers to work as OO/IC.

The majority of both Company Drivers and OO/IC reported a high level of importance and satisfaction with the eight lifestyle factors presented. The lone exception was for Healthcare/Retirement Savings where fewer than 40 percent of OO/IC assigned a high level of importance to this motivating factor. 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 to a Company Driver. Based on these findings, it could be concluded that legislative action that would reclassify OO/IC to company drivers would have a negative impact on the respondents.