Driver Turnover at Big Trucking Firms Jumps to 95 percent

December 18, 2017 by Clarissa Hawes

Big motor carriers are having trouble holding onto drivers.

The pace of driver turnover at big motor carriers rose to 95 percent in the third quarter of 2017, up 14 percentage points from the same period a year earlier.

The third quarter turnover rate is up five percentage points from 90 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to the American Trucking Associations’ latest report.

Turnover at small trucking fleets — those with less than $30 million in annual revenue — increased two percentage points from 82 percent to 84 percent for the same period in 2016. However, the rate dropped one percentage point compared with the second quarter of this year.

The turnover rate is a “reflection of the current state of the driver market,” said Bob Costello, chief economist at the ATA.

“When turnover rates are lower, that tells us that the driver market is not as tight, that drivers are not in as high of demand,” Costello told

“Since bottoming out at the end of 2016, the turnover rate at larger fleets has steadily risen — a function of an improving economy, rising demand for freight transportation and fierce competition for drivers,” he said.

The driver shortage could increase to more than 50,000 drivers by the end of 2017, the ATA said. Click to Tweet

The increasing churn rate may be attributed to truckers jumping from fleet to fleet as carriers offer sign-on bonuses to attract drivers.

“Fleets continue to tell us that competition for good, safe and experienced drivers is fierce, pushing wages higher in hopes of attracting the best talent,” Costello said. “However, unless steps are taken to make it easier for individuals to pursue careers in trucking, demand for drivers will continue to outstrip supply — eventually even leading to supply chain disruptions.”

In an effort to attract more drivers, the ATA suggests “lowering barriers to entry by creating a graduated licensing regime beginning at age 18 for commercial drivers, taking steps to make it easier for veterans to turn their practical military experience into a CDL, reaching out to underrepresented communities who may not have previously considered trucking as a career and continuing to increase pay and benefits as fleets are already doing,” Costello said.

Trucks move 70 percent of the domestic freight tonnage annually, according to the ATA.

Read Next: Truck Driver Crunch Could Send Wages Skyward

6 Responses

  1. Johnny reb

    Truth is trucking is over regulated and I wouldn’t recommend this career to anyone thinking about doing it. Government over reach is going to bankrupt the USA and the ata is just spreading lies they represent carriers with the worst safety ratings

    • Rabblerouser

      Yesterday I felt nice. Nice weather things going smooth.
      14 hours went sailing by and I had a load that needed to reach oil drilling supplier.
      I delivered it then drove 30 miles to the nearest truckstop…nearest place to park as well.
      17.5 hours. I took 11 hours off.
      Today. Crappy winter weather, lots of delays and slow driving.
      After 12 hours I don’t feel like working anymore.
      So I will shut down and take another go at it tomorrow.
      Some days I work more. Some days I work less.
      I never work when I am tired. Bored yes, tired no.
      After 31 years I don’t need to be told when it’s nap time.
      The mandate is about GETTING 14 hours of work out of guys.
      Not to keep them from working extra.
      I have seen in the past few weeks as more companies in my business instal these things, that driver productivity is in the tank.
      These guys are hurrying…. Hazmat tank haulers and fuel handlers should never HURRY. Yet they are.
      A friend of mine has to decide a couple of times a week on three possible choices.
      Go home early and lose all the profit from his day.
      Don’t go home at all and miss one of his kids sporting events.
      Go to the sporting event, leave on the run after and stay out on the road because he won’t quite be able to make it home.
      Perhaps choices such as this should be presented to the legislative pawns of large trucking interests for their opinion.
      I will not hurry. I will do what I can in a day. If I feel like a couple extra hours today and a couple less tomorrow then that is what I will do.
      It has kept me quite happy for the last 31 years.
      As to safety?
      Trucking is enormously safer than when I started in ’86.
      It is not safer due to better drivers. The turnover rate and undesirability of working conditions has led to fewer and fewer career truckers. Lots of losers who never have found a field, inexperienced young kids whose lack of experience exponentially increases their chances for accidents, hurrying… making unnecessary passes, running to fast for conditions…
      Every single one of these items conspires to destroy safety,
      yet it is still safer. Why?
      Equipment is amazingly more safe.
      Tires rarely blow. Antilock brakes have almost completely eliminated jackknifing accidents.
      Cellphones are the greatest safety device ever created.
      Instead of lonely hours without communication or companionship, we can now bullcrap all day… or night long.
      Never once has a man fallen asleep while talking.
      Many companies now won’t even let their drivers use handsfree.. Bluetooth headsets… WTF!
      I have a nephew who is expected to make two 800 mile trips per week. 400 miles per day, delivering the everfiggin output of the hollow tree. There is a camera in the cab. If they see him on his phone even …on a headset.. he’s done.
      So the man is isolated for many hours a day.. (double facepalm).
      I rarely see accidents anymore. Falling asleep accidents were very common in the past. Almost never these days.
      Cellphones, satellite radio, books on cd.
      Now they want autonomous trucks… oh but they’ll have a driver at the wheel… A driver? Who knows how to do what?
      Platooned trucks. So you have one man up front and ten steering wheel holders who will be sound asleep or a million miles away even if they are looking right out the windshield.
      Already many bad accidents have been caused by automatic braking and rollover prevention systems improperly responding to events.
      This train wreck is only getting started.
      Now who do you suppose has the most to gain?
      Carriers who figure that they can push these kids to actually work 14 hours a day?. Most have no desire to do so.
      The job of trucking always “sucked”.
      You had to love it to see past that.
      The government has left virtually nothing to love.
      I am a slave yet I am also very free. I work when I like and don’t when I don’t.
      None of this is about safety or quality of life. Since when does the government give a damn about your quality of life?
      Truckers have been the federal guinnea pigs for ultimate control of all citizens for ages.
      Federally regulated.. that says it all.
      The states are held in servitude to their federal masters by the giving or not giving of highway funds depending on how quickly and completely they bow to the masters commands.

  2. Rayburn

    The damm gov thay make all the stupid rule i been drive forty three year and got drive of the year four be stafty i done it all with out the government involved in it

  3. Diesel

    Drivers are leaving companies thats true but its definitely not for a hire on bonus.When a company offers a bonus they never give it to you up front or as you could imagine they would loose money.The main reason for the 14 percent rise is drivers are facing serious issues with eld mandate there current company is trying to implement eld and in the process drivers are getting ran over,if a driver is loosing money bacause you want to change his driving habits he’s going to move on drivers are not policemen they do not want or need a device in there rig that allows them to communicate with dispatch other then a cellphone imagine someone calling you and asking why did you turn off your truck or why is your truck not running thats what the eld brings to the industry.My personal experience with eld you could not go back a week and see your productivity so your just driving around in space not knowing were you been or what you have done.With paper logs you have the ability to retain your log books so you can properly account for your time,how many weeks or months your on duty.S0 this is pushing in a new breed of drivers-drivers who communicate more than ever before who are literally monitor every second of the day in most cases under very high pressure-pressure to pay bills,be on time for delivery,dont for get pick up appt,watch out for drunk drivers,dont turn that corner to tight,you only have 14hrs work day if you dont park by 14hrs violation how many before fined or fired theres no were to park.


    I have driven 30+ years. Was once a great profession but you also was treated as a professional Trucker. We had a heart beat and a pulse now its a battery and satellite system controlling everything for the government. The government says this ELD is about safety (not at all) this en-fact has created bad safety issues in the real world. The decision the government made in doing this also took the professional out of the trucking world. They say this is a know skilled job, well if anyone would like to jump in and try this do it. I’m sure none of them in government can.
    There are many issues to the safety of trucking real issues. One of them is the law states anyone can be eligible to to obtain a CDL and drive a commercial vehicle providing they can read, write and speak fluent English Language. Instead of enforcing this very important law they turn their heads to it all the way to your motor vehicle offices that let them take it in several languages. They don’t understand the signs this is very important. They do not understand the language on the CB telling them of hazard situations. Can’t communicate on the highway. most of the people brought from all these countries can’t even stay between the lines on the road.
    Auto’s are a big problem. They are not educated about trucks at all before being given a license we always have to babysit their behavior and stupid actions. We no longer have extra time to stop in the highway because you don’t yield coming on the interstates.. when seeing or blinker start racing us even when you are way behind us just because you can. This means he’s coming out so wait. Stop slamming brakes on in middle of the interstate in front of us and stopping in the middle of the interstate you will get hit.. You miss your exit go to the next one and turn around.
    The drivers and all the deals the large companies have made to allow drivers out on the road to train them for couple days ta two weeks lat them go down the road has to stop THEY ARE KILLING PEOPLE. They should be trained in a yard for 8-10 weeks than go out on highway to train with someone that has more than a few weeks out there. They should have a couple years to be trainers not couple weeks.
    the FMCSA should not be allowed to implement laws on trucks that can not be accommodated. This hole thing is so far out of reality is beyond a nightmare.
    Clear the highways in bad weather you know we are out there not wait till school bus hours.Engineer these construction sights to include trucks getting thru safely as well as cars. Put parking in and stop the bull with booting these trucks in Georgia you can’t enforce laws that can’t be implemented fairly. What happen to the constitutional rights given to Americans? On that note what happen to what was once THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

  5. Alric

    18 year old truckers? Only if you want more accidents. To many under 30 drive trucks as if they are in their fourwheelers. But these idiots would rather kill people than pay a fair wage. Drivers in the 70’s made twice what drivers do today, and without these foolish regulations. Want more retention and drivers? First mandate 2 days off per week instead of this 1 day bs. Doesn’t the vast majority get this? Of course a driver should be allowed to take less if wanted. Open better truck stops, and more of them and stop allowing them to overpriced everything. As for companies, stop mentioning these petty 1cpm pay increases, they are a joke. And pay a flat rate instead of saying you pay 50cpm when in reality you pay 40cpm, and 50 if you meet a bunch of criteria. And pay for the actual miles we drive. We don’t drive straight lines everywhere so pay “actual miles”


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