Truck Driver Retention: Stats and Strategies You Need to Know
Truck Driver Retention: Stats and Strategies You Need to Know
Truckers are the lifeblood of America’s economy, generating $940.8 billion in gross freight revenues and hauling over 11 billion tons of freight. Trucking accounts for more than two-thirds of the total freight tonnage moved nationally. Needless to say, truck drivers are at the center of any successful trucking company.
Unfortunately, the United States suffers from a driver shortage, with a shortfall of more than 80,000 drivers predicted in 2024. In addition, industry experts report a long-haul driver turnover rate averaging 94%.
A trucker’s life is challenging, but it can also be rewarding. With competition for drivers, fleet managers must adjust and evolve to meet the needs of truckers to keep them satisfied enough to stay on the payroll. Here, we offer pointers and strategies your company can use to entice new drivers to work for you and keep your seasoned drivers around for years.
Understanding Truck Driver Turnover
Although getting more people to enter the trucking industry is one challenge, the more significant issue is keeping experienced drivers in their current jobs. In the trucking industry, the high turnover rate is not a case of truckers leaving the industry, but job hopping between trucking companies. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the turnover rate “captures churn within the industry — not attrition from the industry.”
High trucker demand coupled with a driver shortage leads trucking companies to pull out all the stops when attracting drivers, including increasing salaries and poaching from competitors. ATA also reports truckers are seeing “unprecedented pay increases across the industry,” with some fleets offering five-figure sign-on bonuses. According to CNN, some companies increased driver pay by about $4,000 to $6,000 a year, or about 9% to 11%.
Drivers have caught on and are empowered to look for the best compensation package and will quickly switch companies for a better offer.
The Cost of Driver Turnover
When an employee changes companies, their old company has a slot to fill and a truck without a driver. The new company faces employee onboarding processing. Exact costs will vary from company to company, but BetterTeam, a popular job board website, estimates it costs between $2,000 and $10,000 to hire a truck driver.
The new trucking company will need to cover the costs of background checks, drug testing, training, orientation, sign-on bonuses, and other company-specific new employee costs.
The driver’s former company will initially incur costs for recruiting and marketing, loss of productivity, and schedule disruption. Upon hiring a new driver, it will also incur all the costs associated with onboarding a new driver.
Factors That Contribute to Driver Turnover
A trucking career means long hours away from home, demanding schedules, strict deadlines, and high stress levels. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the plight of truck drivers to the forefront, with the media highlighting the supply-chain logistics and the importance of the often-forgotten truck driver.
The following factors are the demands on all truck drivers that lead to driver burnout and job dissatisfaction:
- Extreme driving conditions
- High stress levels
- Isolation and loneliness
- Limited personal time
- Physical and mental health challenges
- Sleep deprivation
- Strict regulatory requirements
- Unpredictable schedule and long hours
Women joining the trucking industry brings the following additional contributing factors:
- Inadequate support
- Poor work-life balance
- Safety concerns
- Sexual harassment
Proven Truck Driver Retention Strategies
What can companies do to attract drivers and increase their retention rates? Start by addressing each factor that leads to turnover and create a counter-measure to improve job satisfaction.
Money talks! Pay your team well, and your driver retention rates will improve. You may think you cannot afford to raise salaries, but with the driver turnover and shortage companies face, it may be a necessity.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $49,920 in May 2022, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $75,220. The average hourly wage for truck drivers increased from $26.69 in Q1 2022 to $28.69 in Q1 2023, with data for April suggesting a rise to $29.22 per hour.
Enhanced Safety Measures
Driving big rigs is a dangerous job. Not only should your company ensure all the trucks in the fleet are well maintained and comfortable, but you should also focus on driver safety. This includes access to skills enhancement programs, concessions during dangerous conditions, and support for access to safe rest stops and facilities. Air ride seats, brakes, hydraulic dollies, and automatic transmissions are equipment enhancements to make the job less physically demanding and more appealing to women.
Strong Company Culture
Offering a safe environment embracing diversity means individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, and demographics feel welcome and valued. Recognizing the value of long-term employees by establishing mentorship programs lets existing drivers feel respected and the new drivers feel welcome. Gender inclusivity is also critical and ensures equal access to restrooms and locker facilities with men’s and women’s products.
Excellent health insurance, which includes vision, dental, and hearing coverage, is crucial. It is also important to offer resources to support your drivers’ physical and mental well-being. Drivers need access to medical doctors nationwide, telehealth care, and confidential access to stress management and mental health resources, including various types of therapy.
Beyond health care, consider reimbursement for wellness offerings, including:
- Smoking cessation programs
- Financial and retirement planning
- Sleep apnea screening and treatment
- Nutrition counseling
- Fitness class reimbursement
Latest technological solutions
Technology is the best way to keep your drivers moving and connected to the company and clients. Although coverage for a cell phone and service plan may not be an option, consider offering reimbursement on mobile plan costs or accessories, such as Bluetooth headsets.
Also, upgrade your on-board devices to the latest trucking software and driver notification solutions. Technology can help get your drivers to their destinations faster and safer. Drivewyze Free provides in-cab safety alerts, congestion, and advisories. Drivewyze PreClear provides the chance to skip the scales with the nation’s largest weigh station bypass service.
An updated electronic logging device (ELD) supports drivers with accurate and real-time tracking of driving hours, ensuring compliance with Hours of Service regulations. Drivewyze integrates with most ELD systems.
Truckers know they will be away from home for long periods, but anything your company can do to prioritize the work-life balance will be appreciated by your drivers. Suggestions for work-life support include:
- Offer vacation and sick leave and encourage drivers to take it
- Provide flexible and set scheduling options with generous home time
- Provide sufficient recovery between trips
- Discourage excessive scheduling or picking up extra shifts
- Offer job-sharing opportunities
- Schedule family-inclusive events and celebrations
Ways to Improve Morale Among Your Drivers
Not every company can afford to give major bonuses, but they can go a long way when it comes to improving morale. Other ways you can improve driver morale include:
- Driver recognition and appreciation
- Celebration of personal events and milestones
- Open-door communication policy
- Career advancement opportunities
- Team-building activities
- Welcoming and seeking driver feedback
Above all, reward, reward, reward! Find ways to recognize your drivers. Whether acknowledging accident-free days, on-time delivery, miles on the road, Good Samaritan effort, or community involvement, letting your drivers know they are valued will go a long way toward boosting their morale.
How Drivewyze Can Help Your Fleet
Drivers love Drivewyze because we help them go further, earn more, and get home sooner. Drivewyze serves commercial drivers and fleets with innovative trucking services such as the Drivewyze PreClear bypass service, Drivewyze Safety+, and Drivewyze e-Inspection.
Contact us today to find out how Drivewyze can keep your entire fleet safe and help you cut costs.