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 Trucks.com.
“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 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.