The American Trucking Association, in 2015, published a study that said the rate of driver turnover was 102%.  Let’s say that a company has a fleet of 200 drivers.  If their turnover rate is 102%, they are hiring 204 drivers every year. This means that any given trucking fleet can be made up of drivers who have spent less than a year with the same company. A company’s trucking fleet in 2019 will look almost completely different than the one it had in 2018. The 2018 fleet already looked different than the 2017 one.  Having seen hundreds of truckers’ resumes, I can tell you that it is rare for truckers to last at the same job for two years or more.

So what is responsible for this insanely high turnover rate?

1. Miscommunication Between Parties

I’ve talked to dozens of drivers who interviewed and accepted a position with companies only to find out that those positions weren’t as advertised.  Sometimes, a driver can get upset because he isn’t working the hours he expected. In some cases, they get upset because the pay is significantly less than advertised.  Drivers already have a hard job. Sometimes companies can inadvertently cause their own driver turnover problems by not openly communicating with their employees

2. Supply and Demand

In the article I wrote on the driver shortage, I posited that such a shortage was not due to a lack of drivers.  Rather, the shortage is more due to a lack of really good drivers.  Think about basketball, for a second.  LeBron James, Steph Curry, and James Harden make more money between themselves than most of the NBA combined.  That’s because organizations will pay for the best talent.

Just like the NBA, trucking has its own versions of LeBron James or Aaron Rodgers or Cristiano Ronaldo.  And companies will pay for their services.  In some cases, this can lead to a company having unrealistic expectations on what they will get in a driver. Other cases, this can lead companies to offer up $10,000+ signing bonuses. All I can say is that I wish my job offered a $10,000 signing bonus! That’s a ton of money to invest in a single driver. It’s hard to blame the driver for jumping at the chance (even if it can hurt his future job chances).

3.   People Are Emotional Creatures

Yes, you read that right.  Since there is a shortage of high-quality drivers, anything that ticks off a driver can lead to early termination.  If a driver feels like the boss’ demands are unreasonable, he might start looking for a new job.  Perhaps the driver feels betrayed by their higher-ups. He could start looking for a new job.  And because the shortage is so severe, a driver looking for work can find a new job pretty quickly. This is especially true in areas like the Permian Basin — Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, etc. — where they place a premium on experience in the oil industry.


These are just a few of the reasons why driver turnover is so high. In my next article, I’ll talk about how this impacts the costs a company might face and what they might consider to solve those problems.

But for now, happy driving everyone!

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