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Top 3 Best & Worst States to be a Truck Driver

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truck drivers make up 2.4% of nationwide fatalities on the road.  Truck driving is not only one of the country’s largest industries but also, one of the country’s most hazardous jobs. In this post, we will talk about the three best and worst states to drive as a trucker and why. 


Top 3 WORST States for Trucking


North Dakota


With the national average of truck driver fatalities on the road being 2.4%, North Dakota alone has an astounding 8.8%! Most of it is attributed to the inclement weather experienced there.  Brutal winters cause icy roads and whiteouts.  Often times pulling over onto a shoulder is not even an option because they are not visible and covered in snow.  Truckers can mistake ditches as shoulders and topple over or simply get stuck.  Since the inclement weather often causes automobile accidents, traffic can crawl as slow as 20 miles per hour or just stop very suddenly.  This is extremely dangerous considering large trucks already need a lot more stopping distance.



In terms of quality of life, Virginia come up short for truckers.  Quality of life alludes to the average pay to cost of living.  The average salary for a truck driver in Virginia is 18.18% less than the average per capita income within Virginia state with the lowest 10% of truck drivers earning around $32,000. 


A massive pileup in 2015 leading to closure of I-80 in Wyoming.
Image source: Wyoming Highway Patrol

In terms of the number of fatalities on the road, truck drivers make up 6.7% in Wyoming which is higher than the national average.  The mountainous landscape allows for winds so strong; it can blow trucks over causing many accidents.  One of the main interstates, I-80, experience frequent closures because of snow, ice, and strong winds.  Traffic could be backed up over a 10-mile stretch and could take as long as a few days for it to clear up leaving novice truck drivers stuck in their route.


Top 3 BEST States for Trucking




Indiana provides one of the top highest trucking wages with the average salary being around $70,000 and the lowest 10% making around $53,000.  Truck drivers in Indiana make 12.71% more than the average per capita income of Indiana.  There are also ample opportunities in trucking within the state.



Oklahoma is the top state to work in trucking.  There are few regulations on the industry, practically no traffic, low gas prices, and wide open spaces meaning truckers can cover a lot of land with a lot less gas. It just so happens that there are a disproportionate number of trucking companies that are based there compared to everywhere else in USA.



Just like Oklahoma, Texas is one of the best states to work as a trucker because there’s low-regulation in the industry.  Since it is such a large state, many businesses need services to ship their loads. Though there are a couple of high density cities that create severe traffic, the fuel is cheap compared to other states and there’s very few restrictions when pursuing this as a career.  In 2016, Texas had the most people employed as truckers, so there are plenty of great opportunities as an owner-operator.  In Texas, personal income are not taxed and the cost of living in most parts are really affordable.

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Customers Versus Employees: Who Is More Important?

These days it seems like more and more companies are adding “customer obsession” as part of their core values.  A concept that arguably was initially implemented by Amazon.

Customer Obsession
“Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

Source: Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

This is further emphasized by old adages like, “the customer is always right.” This concept is not necessarily new, but with more and more studies concluding that Customer Experience Drives Innovation for High-Performing Companies it is no wonder more and more companies are diverting to this way of thinking.  However, we must not forget the alternative:

Employee Job Satisfaction
“When you hire good people, and you provide good jobs and good wages and a career, good things are going to happen.”

Source: James Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco

So which is more important?  Happy customers or happy employees?  Truth is, they are both important and non-exclusive.  You don’t have to choose one while sacrificing the other.

The reality is most companies often forget to put the wellness of their employees on their list of priorities.  It is assumed nowadays that a job position is a gift to the employee contingent upon their level of hard work.  “If you work hard, you have a job!” However, it is worth noting that when you have job satisfaction, hard work is no longer an “obligation” …it becomes a direct result of working happily.  (It is so much easier to do your job when you love it, right?!)  It has been proven in studies time and time again. 

“We have found that [job satisfaction can] act as motivational stimuli for employees. With their proper use, management can overcome the desired behavior from its employees, thus building goals in the long run and pursuing the vision of the company.”

Source: “The Importance of Employee Satisfaction in the Transportation and Logistics Service Industry” by Eneja Sila & Klemen Sirok (June 2018)

These days, a gift of a job is not something to take for granted and job satisfaction is an abstract state of mind.  At the same time, it is known that job performance directly correlates with job satisfaction and happy employees bring in happy customers.  So, while customer satisfaction is important, it should never be obtained by sacrificing job satisfaction for the employees. The logistics industry has one of the highest turnover rates with a 73% driver turnover rate at small carriers and 94% driver turnover rate at large carriers with one of the primary reasons attributed to low job satisfaction. It is important to keep in mind that a healthy balance is hard to juggle but, ideal to save one of the world’s largest industries.

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