U.S. Truck Fleets See an Uptick in Driver Turnover

If the freight economy picks up, driver turnover will likely accelerate. (Photo: Brian Hadden/

The driver turnover pace for U.S. truck fleets rose in the first quarter of 2017. Despite the increase, rates remain at historically low levels.

“The slight uptick in turnover, despite weak freight volumes in the first quarter, may be indicative of a tightening in the driver market,” said Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist.

In March, the amount of freight hauled by the trucking industry dipped 1 percent following a decline of .1 percent in February, according to ATA’s seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.

“The situation bears watching because if the freight economy picks up significantly, turnover will surely accelerate – as will concerns about driver shortage,” Costello said.

For large carriers with revenues of more than $300 million, driver turnover rose 3 points to 74 percent. Though rates increased over the previous quarter, levels are down 15 points compared with 2016.

Small carriers also experienced a small increase of 2 points over the previous quarter, raising levels slightly to 66 percent. Compared with first quarter of last year, however, rates are down 22 points.

The turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers, which typically skew lower, ticked up 2 points to 10 percent.