The truck driver shortage has gotten  so dire that a trucking company in Utah has installed 100 channels of satellite TV in its fleet of trucks in order to attract new drivers.

The trucking industry currently is undergoing an unprecedented shortage in drivers. Some blame the low pay, long hours, and the requirement that truckers spend many days or even weeks away from their families while others say it’s due to new federal regulations that limit how long drivers can spend behind the wheel before taking a sleep break.

Whatever the cause, the shortage has put a real strain on the trucking industry, with some freight firms offering higher pay while others are proposing allowing teenagers to drive trucks in order to expand the labor pool.

Free Satellite TV

Interide Transport, a trucking company based in Salt Lake City, is taking a different approach to recruiting new drivers:Free satellite TV.

The company recently installed in-cab satellite TV systems with the capability of getting 100 channels of sports, movies, news and other entertainment in each of its 95 trucks.

And the company says the program is working: It’s already experienced a 23% improvement in its driver retention and has saved more than $92,400 in the cost of hiring and training new drivers.

Cost Effective Benefit

Each satellite TV system costs about $600 per year. But that’s money well spent if it allows the company to hold onto drivers longer, according to Sean Snow, Interide’s founder and CEO.

The TVs are mounted in the sleeper berth of the semi-trailer cab and can only be activated when the truck is in park, so there’s no risk of drivers being tempted to take a peek at their favorite shows while they are driving.

But the company that provides the satellite TV service — EpicVue — said there is a “inMotion” option that does allow the TVs to work while the truck is moving, but it’s only for team drivers.

Susan Fall, an EpicVue spokeswoman, said that although in-cab satellite TV is new, it’s popularity has taken off and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a standard feature.

Searching for New Ways to Attract New Drivers

Some of the nation’s biggest trucking firms — including Swift Transportation, Con-way Truckload, and US Xpress — are offering higher wages in an effort to secure more new drivers and to reduce driver turnover.

Earlier this year, US Xpress announced that it was instituting an average 13% increase in base mileage pay for over-the-road solo truck drivers, effective August 25. The company’s chief operating officer, Eric Fuller, said that the move was a direct result of the company’s need to recruit and retain qualified drivers.

Problem Getting Worse

The truck driver shortage is expected to get worse before it gets better, accrding to Bob Costello, chief economist for the ATA. By 2025, the trucking industry will need to hire an estimated 8890,000 new drivers — or an average of 89,000 per year.

“Our work shows the great and growing need for drivers,” Costello said in a news release. “But we also highlight several solutions, including increasing driver pay, getting drivers more time at home, as well as improving the image of the driver and their treqatment by all companies in the supply chain.”

“Make no mistake, the driver shortage is a challenge,” said Costello, “but not an insurmountable one.”

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