There was a time long ago where turnover was not a problem.

Trucking companies today are faced with driver turnover and the issue doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

The expense for a carrier to hire, train and get a new driver can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. Why then wouldn’t a carrier do everything possible to retain their drivers?

Large carriers have a recruiting office and spend a significant amount of money each month in programs and advertising to find qualified drivers. Time is taken to select those who will be the most successful within the company.

Once hired, the driver undergoes training to learn the equipment, policies and procedures at his/her new company. The trucking company has most likely told the driver that he/she will have plenty of home time and good shipments with an agreed upon salary. The driver is eager to get started with the new company and usually has the best intentions that all will go well and that everything promised will be given.

It seems that in just a few months after being hired, the driver starts to become dissatisfied with the company, dispatcher or compensation. What went wrong?

After doing some research, I found that there are various reasons for the driver and company to become displeased with one another. It appears that drivers are anxious to leave a trucking company due to the lack of being appreciated for what they do. Drivers want fair compensation for the job performed. They want consistent home time (which is promised during the hiring process) and would like to be rewarded for years of good service/seniority within a company.

In speaking with some drivers, they feel there is a lack of good communication between them and the company. Often times a company wants the utmost control/power over a driver and his/her time. This power struggle can lead to a driver quitting the company.

In general, I’m trying to understand the dynamics of driver turnover. I myself have never driven for a trucking company so I’m in unfamiliar territory. In sixteen years, I worked for two private carriers. It was difficult to get a job as a driver as these two private carriers had very little turnover. A job would open if someone retired or passed away. Over the last seventeen years, I’ve worked as an independent owner operator.

I wonder if the job of driving a truck is presented by the carrier in an unrealistic manner. Once hired, why does it become so difficult for the company and driver to work together for the success of both parties?

Comments (11)

Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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Turn over?
what turn over?,{J.K}
heard on the XM yesterday,{so it must be true}, that in the next 6 years we will need over a million new drivers. point was made that this is just to cover needs, and, turnover rate will more then dabble this #.
Oh, yh'a, then there's the conspiracy part.
trucking Co. have a recruiting office personal that MUST kept busy.
they get paid from the Gov. for creating new jobs'.
and{obviously} revolving the turn over door- keeps rates down.
if a newcomer get paid 28C/M. while the old school needs 46,for delivering the same freight. @ 150K/M/Y, that's a whooping 27,000$ in the carrier pocket.
in a nutshell, don't blame the poor driver for leaving the carrier.

December 06, 2013 9:13:39 AM

Thanks all of the great comments to this very complex issue facing our industry today.

November 25, 2013 22:46:16 PM

My dispatcher ( I refuse to refer to a dispatcher as a "fleet manager"), since 2010. I know how she works and what she expects. She keeps in mind how I can run and where I prefer to run, and which customers I prefer to service. I guess we both win. It seems to be that u do not have to work nearly as long to make a decent pay , and that is what matters, isn't it?

November 23, 2013 20:43:54 PM

I've worked for large fleets, and I have driven for small companies. I prefer the fleets that have less than 200 tractors. In my pre- employment research, I would speak with potential co-workers, and check their CSA data.
I've noticed that company drivers are mostly considered "warm butts in a seat", with very little acknowledgement, little positive reinforcement, sub-standard pay, with many other factors. I am enjoying my current employer; I enjoy our customer base, our equipment is well taken care of , along with being nicely spec'd.

November 23, 2013 20:40:13 PM

I think part of it may be the drivers attitude. Seems like a lot of drivers want the perfect work experience. And there is always the grass is always greener approach.

I've been with the same company for 21 years now. 3 million accident free miles this year. It would have been nice to be recognized for this. however the reason I work here is money. I get home, run the areas i like and make good money. For me thats what matters. Each driver has to find that which makes him happy.

November 23, 2013 12:13:19 PM

Migrating toward electronics may increase efficiency by reducing phone calls. That may lead to management - particularly dispatchers - to be less sensitive. The driver becomes associated with the icon of a truck on the screen. It would seem to me the smart carriers will need and somehow integrate a social network to build and maintain relationships with drivers.

November 23, 2013 8:20:41 AM

I had a lot to say on this one and it pertains to other industries as well as transportation and like Linda mentioned, none of it was employee compensation based. I think I'll let my internal filter work this time and just say companies and employees, but ESPECIALLY COMPANIES in regards to their employees need to under promise and over deliver.

November 22, 2013 13:38:34 PM

We have heard from various sources that it is usually not pay that drives a driver or O/O to look for a new company it is how they are treated. We spent a lot of time with our first large carrier who we were satisfied with BUT finally left due to dispatcher turnover. We had a dedicated dispatcher whom we need to form a relationship with and in one year we had six. They finally wore us down and then other little things started bothering us.

November 22, 2013 9:58:55 AM

I think trucking companies are so big these days a driver feels like he as just becomes a number , from my experience I use to have 300 trucks based at 6 locations at head office where I was based I could mix and talk to the drivers and listen to them with good things about the company and the bad things and driver loss was not a issues I believe it was because they had access to the owner of the company and they could see I valued there skills and commitment to the company

November 22, 2013 9:30:22 AM

Good point Jeff. I wonder how much the loss of personal relationships has added to the turnover problem.

November 22, 2013 6:30:35 AM

In the "old" days we spoke on the pay phone. You could hear voice intonations. You could give and receive immediate feedback. Now with electronic data communication there is less feed back. I wonder how that will effect turnover rates.

November 22, 2013 4:37:24 AM