Truckstops and travel plazas play a vital role in keeping the nation’s truck drivers moving, and professional Class 8 drivers have unique needs that differ from those of the traveling public.
To help the nation’s truckstop and travel plaza operators better understand fleets, drivers and their needs, NATSO Services and the NATSO Foundation launched a comprehensive survey among company drivers, leased drivers, independent owner/operators and fleet owners/ managers and used the results to create the Professional Driver Buying Behavior at Travel Centers Toolkit. The toolkit covers several critical areas, including fueling payment options and factors influencing drivers’ fueling decisions.
Download the Professional Driver Buying Behavior at Travel Centers Toolkit here.
Driver and Fleet Concerns
There are several critical issues affecting fleets in today’s operating environment. The price of fuel was among the most-often cited concerns for drivers as well as fleet owners and managers. Other concerns included the driver shortage, hours-of-service and other government regulations.
Fuel Purchasing Decisions
There are several factors that influence where drivers stop, and their importance varies widely depending on the driver type. Among leased and independent owner-operators, fuel price is among the top considerations, coming in at 85% and 87%, respectively. However, for company drivers, just 23% cited fuel price.
More than one-third of company drivers—39%—said the fleet they work for tells them where to stop, compared to just 6% of leased owner-operators and 1% of independent owner-operators.
Truck parking’s importance on fueling decisions ranked similarly among driver types at 28% for company drivers, 38% of leased owner-operators and 26% of independent owner-operators.
Fleet owners had slightly different responses, but fuel price remained a top deciding factor, with 54% listing cost. Just over one-third—36%— said they tell drivers where to stop based on negotiated deals. Additionally, 29% cited the amount of truck parking, 21% listed proximity to the highway and 19% said safety.
Biodiesel can provide several economic benefits to truckstop and travel plaza operators, enabling them to increase fuel margins while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of respondents said they do not have any issues with fueling with biodiesel blends.
Respondents who said they have had issues with using biodiesel blends were also asked about issues preventing them from using biodiesel. Fleet owner/managers cited issues with engines and fuel performance the highest at 65%, followed by 62% of leased owners/operators, 56% of independent owner/operators and 50% of company drivers.
Interestingly, several drivers and fleet owners/managers reported that they have heard biodiesel causes issues with engines and fuel system performance but had not had a specific experience.
Drivers and fleets have several options to pay for fuel, but the majority of respondents said they pay with a fuel card. Independent owner-oper- ators had the highest percentage of those using credit cards at 25%.
How drivers actually pay and how they prefer to pay can differ, so NATSO looked at preference. More company drivers (82%), leased- owner operators (82%) and fleet owners/managers (78%) reported that they prefer a fuel card than independent owner-operators (67%).
Independent owner operators listed major credit card at a greater rate (31%) than company drivers (14%) and leased owner operators (14%). Independentowneroperatorscited checks at a higher rate (6%) than company drivers (1%), leased own- er operators (1%) and independent owner operators (1%).
Tires are one of a fleets’ top expenses, and more than half of all respondents said fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions were at least somewhat important when purchasing tires.
// The 2022 Report for Travel Centers on Professional Driver and Fleet Behavior was created by the NATSO Foundation— the NATSO Foundation is the research, education and public outreach subsidiary of NATSO, Inc. The NATSO Foundation provides programs and products aimed at strengthening travel plazas’ ability to meet the needs of the traveling public through improved operational performance and business planning. Visit www.natsofoundation.org for more information. (Donate to the NATSO Foundation here.)
To obtain a full version of NATSO’s Professional Driver Buying Behavior at Travel Centers Toolkit, visit www.natso.com/drivertoolkit.
Subscribe to Updates
NATSO provides a breadth of information created to strengthen travel plazas’ ability to meet the needs of the travelling public in an age of disruption. This includes knowledge filled blog posts, articles and publications. If you would like to receive a digest of blog post and articles directly in your inbox, please provide your name, email and the frequency of the updates you want to receive the email digest.