Driver Turnover Rate Staying Above 100%


Back in September, the ATA announced that the driver turnover rate was up over 100% for the first time in 4 years. Well, another quarter has passed and the turnover rate is still above 100%. It’s dipped 2% from September and is hovering right around 104%. These numbers are shockingly high, but no one seems terribly surprised.

Trucking companies are blaming the high turnover on the driver shortage. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in September that the shortage is causing companies to battle each other for drivers. This implies that drivers keep getting offered better and better jobs, so they keep switching. In actuality, we know that drivers switch jobs and leave the industry not because they’re getting offered an amazing deal somewhere else, but because fleeing for greener pastures.

Costello reiterated his theory this time saying, “These numbers continue to reflect a tight driver market, and an actual shortage for drivers. We believe the industry is actually short between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers, but if freight volumes were to accelerate, I would expect that number to grow and grow rapidly.”

It’s not just the big companies that are having trouble keeping their drivers around though. Smaller trucking companies (fleets with less than $30 million in annual revenue) actually reported their turnover rates going up. Now that smaller companies are having difficulties with driver retention, it’s time to not only examine the mega-carriers, but also to take a look at the trends of the industry as a whole.

LTL carriers meanwhile reported an average turnover rate of just 8%, down a full percentage point from the previous quarter.


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Source: truckinginfo, fleetowner

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78 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Christopher Potvin says

    Why do they sound so surprised? I started driving in 04 and the is the same as it was back then. Drivers will NEVER stay in this field because companies don’t give a crap about OTR Drivers. You cannot expect a guy to stay 3-5 weeks away from home to gross $700 a week working 70(+) hours a week. ANYBODY can make that money working 2 burger flipper jobs. Both Burgerking and wendys in my area start you off at $9 and some change then you are up to $10 in a few months and they will be treated better flipping burgers than they ever would in Trucking.

    I’m blessed to have a decent local jobs that pays well and I get my weekends off. But I sit alot for free and my company could give a rats behind about their drivers. The only reason anybody stays is because of the weekends off. LTL would have a lower turnover rate because they are paid by the hour if Local and at a good wage. The Linehaul guys are paid a good wage per run and most of the ones I know have weekends off as well, but they do have to run at night. Is it any wonder why their turnover is so low. How hard is it for an OTR company to figure out how to keep drivers? Take a look at the LTL companies, you dummies

  2. John says

    My own opinion about driver turnover has never changed. People leave in these staggering percentages because they are not treated right and then they believe the lies of yet another company telling them how much better they are. But of course if they are better. How come their turnover is probably just as high? Trucking is not a normal course of work for people. It has odd hours, long stints away from family and friends and although the pay can look good on paper. It does not always look good come payday. Case in point, a big chip maker had a recruiting day for OTR drivers. Of course they promise $65,000 to $75.000 on average for a driver. However they admit a average week that driver only puts in around 2000 miles? So where does that money come from? Certainly not from driving miles. No its unloading and loading trucks. My point is that when its sounds too good it probably is. Most money I made in trucking was running rail service and I stayed busy all the time. Doing enough miles to make good pay and spending limited time in docks or yards. Unless companies start paying big dollars to sit the pay situation is strictly based on how many miles you drive. The turnover usually comes from no miles, and sitting somewhere from family making no miles and no money.

  3. Lee Barron says

    I am a new driver and when I read articles like this, I wonder if I am doing well in choosing trucking as a career path. Any advice is welcome!
    On the outside looking in,

  4. Don Dierdorff says

    You should wonder why, in an economy as bad as it’s ever been since the Great Depression, there are still shortages in the trucking industry. If I didn’t experience it myself, I would never have believed everything a driver has to go through, and almost all of it is really bad. Poorly maintained equipment, mechanical breakdowns, gobs of rules and regulations, a lot of which are impracticle and an extremely hostile environment are only a few of the things that make OTR driving a third world industry.

  5. Owen Reed says

    2 things come to mind. I ve been driving 8 years. And what I can tell you is 1.The pay for driving
    needs to increase to match up to the cost of living. 2.The other is these ridiculously slow trucks.
    The fun of doing this job is gone because of to many rules and regulations.

  6. under paid / overworked says

    safe equipment to drive with a LIVABLE wage and health benefits will keep drivers in their trucks. Let’s not forget those companies who have the smokey and the bandit dispatch system who support the driver turnover rate if you don’t do what they say :(

  7. HJ says

    Until companies treat drivers better, the pay is increased (.50 cents is not enough), wait time are paid from the first minute and the government gets REAL with regulations and backs off with all the BS it will not get better…..
    I am retired now but have over 30 years in trucking both as an O/O and company driver and there’s no way I would want to get in to trucking today.

  8. Bill says

    10 of us all started trucking the same week and we all seen the same thing happen and heard 100’d of the same stories from other drivers.

    You start off 25-30 cents a mile and they give you 3000 per week.

    As soon as you get 6 months in to a year and they pay 33-38 cents a mile all of a sudden you only get 2000 per week?

    Same driver, same truck, same perfect on time record?

    As soon as you say you want to go home for family time they punish, yes punish you with 2 weeks of very low miles!

    Never mind all the on paid sitting time because they hired someone with a 8th grade education to dispatch 75 trucks and has no clue what they are doing with the drivers lives in the balance!

    Drive safe everyone and Happy Holidays!

  9. merlinn says

    How about apying us for ALL of the work we do since we all do more than just point the nose of the truck up the road? I pre-trip, hookup, unhook, post-trip and fuel my truck. I don’t get paid for any of that but I’d get a big fine if I didn’t, at least, log it. Don’t tell me the points from some truckstop card program is supposed to be pay for fueling. Fifteen minutes to pump 150 gallons at .01/gallon works out to about $6/hour. My time is worth a lot more than that.

  10. says

    After 20+ years , I will not be renewing my waiver, SPE Certification issued by the FHWSA for driver’s with certain physical defects. Great program , great people.They have never anything but supportive and helpful. Trucking companies on the other hand have grown increasingly rude, disrespectful , discriminative. Insurance rate issues, insurance underwriters demands have led to draconian enforcement of standards for driver performance. Make one minor mistake and you are history. I have had no accidents, no moving violations , but discover on my DAC, the driver’s ” credit report ” one ” incident ” in which the right front corner of the tractor bumper touched the guardrail on A scale entry. My first , and last time at that terminal. I was making A right turn into the scale as directed by A screaming terminal employee . He was pointing , waving his arms and in general acting like he had lost it. I could see that what he wanted me to do was not possible , I should not have even tried . I went as far as I could , stopped and had to back out. It was then that the bumper touched the guardrail. All the while the ” ceremonial dance ” was in full swing. I did A go-around , entered straight and square, the way I should have done to begin with , and had no problems. Called my dispatcher and reported it, went on my way. Little did I know what it had evolved into during the secret rituals behind the scenes. I could go on with more on the callous treatment of people only trying to earn A living, but my point is made. I wear A prosthetic device , A hook for A left hand , and when I got out of the tractor and walked to the scale house , that’s all it took. They saw me and the execution was carried out. Not permitted back at the terminal. Their prerogative , there are no checks and balances, no redress . I know what transpired because I was informed in private. Where work came easy over the years for me ; no longer. Our society is changing , and for the worse. If you are over 60 you can attest to that. So, this is just me. My perceptions are my realities , based 90% on memories. The human condition. I can only speak for myself ; our memories are so varied…..Just sayin’ , Mike

  11. Patrick Henry says

    Run Lee, run fast and far! The trucking business is one of the easiest in the world to get into. But it’s one of the hardest to get out of.

  12. Billy says

    Lee trucking is 14 plus hour days while only getting paid for the miles you traveled in that 14 hours in simplicity without the so called tarp fees, drop hook , stop pay ect. You get stuck for a hour or more in traffic you make no money!
    I suggest the oil patch where you get paid by the hour.Its work away from home but ya put in 14.5 hours a day you get paid for those 14 hours! After the first 40 hours your time and a half!

  13. George says

    Try and get a union job…. also ask around about the truckingf firm you are planning to go with. Look up the company on the internet. If you go with a independent check him out all you can and it will still be a crap shoot. Good Luck

  14. George says

    If there is a high turn over. Check them out real good… There is a reason the drivers are leaving…Save your self a lot of grief…

  15. Joseph says

    Dson’t think it has as much to do with better offers as much as it has to do with lack of brespect for it’s drivers. Poor load assignments with too much time between pic@kups and deliveries or OTR but instead I’m kept on the east coast nowhere close to home and sitting 4 out of 5 weekends I’m out. After the New Year I’ll be just one more to add to bthat statistic.

  16. Darren says

    I have been driving for 21yrs now, and while I agree with most of the comments ie……. low pay lack of respect, long hrs and especially DOT regs let’s take a look at ourselves also! While rare their is good dispatchers out there, and yes the hrs are long and pay is low. But what do we do to change this! Do you try to put yourself in your dispatchers chair meaning relate with him, he has a job also, or do you immediately start
    crying to him and pouting, esp you new guys! You want respect earn it!
    How can things ever get better when drivers are afraid to work, dress like freaks, yes I know “your expressing yourselves” but really dress like a idiot get treated as same! Then you buy big radios and act ignorant and trashy on the C. B.
    anybody listening to the chatter would have no other course than to think truckers have the iq of a carrot! How can anyone take us serious! If we want to change the industry we need to change ourselves!

  17. WornandTiredOut says

    30+ Years and it hasn’t changed for the good but so much ever more for the bad.People need to work to live and eat but for some reason Company’s seem to think the rules don’t apply the same to drivers as the rest of the working world.Dispatchers will always lie to get the job done and Company’s will lie to hire drivers and keep on lieing to keep them.I have seen alot come and go but this is the worst its been for some time now.Drivers fought for good wages and decent driving and clean maintained equipment and its just back sliding more everyday.Long hours and bad equipment is just some of the main reasons drivers are job hoping or some are just quitting and walking away from it.Smoke and mirrors isnt working anymore and now its starting to catch up and we are starting to get fed up and looking for better treatment and equipment,good paying wages,home time or time off to have a life.Most people think poorly of drivers and treat then with little and even no respect.Shippers and receivers will cause alot of aggravation just trying to get what you need and get moving again,dispatchers treat drivers as their whipping post.They are your best buddy when they need something done and then after you get it done you have to fight them to get paid or some home time.I see more and more dispatchers coming from displaced workers looking for a new job as theirs layoff or closed doors and they need to find work and they walk in with no experience and understanding of what they are doing or care. CSA,DOT,local,state,county,scales and homeland security are just some things we have to deal with and they sure aren’t making things anymore easier on the driver if not 50 to 100% more difficult and they just keep on pushing then wonder why drivers walk away .

  18. Robert says

    I think compaines have a big turn out because this new dac reports that are being made on people are not true most of the time. Like, take john Christner trucking,they are a company who should not even be in business,they have dispatchers that lie on drivers and get them fired,and the satefy person John ,does not get the job done. If these compaines did not go by these dac reports,they would keep drivers,they need to get rid of all of these reports that helps fire drivers.
    Keeping safe drivers should be the number one thing for these compaines. I worked for werner transportation for over a year,yea they dont pay great,but thae treat you good, and they try to keep safe drivers,but thet can not baby-sit drivers on the road. But what changes should be made is that dam dac reports, the psp reports should stay.

  19. says

    To clarify my following statements, I was, and still drive, an over the road driver. I NEVER forget who keeps the lights on at a trucking Company. As a Manager, I know BOTH sides. I was a Recruiter for one of the largest Trucking Companies in the world, as well as 2 smaller Companies. My experience tells me the following:
    Too many drivers are unhappy … mainly because they are unhappy people, by nature. All Companies struggle to treat EVERY driver individually. Too many drivers are to self-centered to look at the bigger picture AND too many are unwilling to pick up the phone to clear the air, or get answers to their concerns. Good communication is the biggest key to becoming content as a Truck Driver. It’s a tough life and it is NOT for everyone.

  20. Darrel says

    The trucking turnover is not due to trucker shortages for crying out LOUD, it is due to these companies that don’t pay their good drivers anything and run them like dogs. Drivers go out OTR for weeks on end and literally marry their trucks and don’t get paid jack****!!! I would think 4 weeks vacation per year would not be out of the question to get the drivers time off to enjoy their family life or life in general. Bonuses for being a good driver would be pretty simple that would be like a thank you driver for your safety record and customer service you show to our valuable customers when delivering and picking up. Also having fewer drivers to dispatchers would bring a more personal relationship. Thankyou for allowing me to share my thoughts. I drove for a cpl companies OTR and would like it if the pay was good and sometime a little better. There are companies that have good incentives but they are far and few.

  21. mike says

    I’ve been trucking since 04 and noticed that DOT & TROOPERS are tough on us..
    let me ask you guys this, have you heard of truck drivers STRIKING?
    company employees strike all the time but not us drivers. if all the trucks stop and go on Strike with all the companies, they would have no choice but to raise our rates of pay.. if drivers went on Strike for 2 days it would be 1.8 billion dollar lost they would take there is no way they would let us Strike longer then that.. thing is the economy is so bad drivers wouldn’t Strike and they know that.. Look at California the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles went on Strike for 8 days and the ports had a 16 billion dollar lost.. Cmon guys they need us to drive, how else is folks gone eat, whip they ass, or provide home materials. ITS US!!!! WE SHOULDN’T BE THE LOWEST ON THE TOTEM POLE

  22. Rob says

    Up here in Canada there’s always a supposed driver shortage. Government and industry are constantly shouting out that there’s a ticking time bomb lurking ahead. That may be partially so because a lot of the boomers will be hanging up the wheel over the next few years. But for the most part it’s completely false.

    I have many years behind the wheel and realistically feel I’m considered a top driver. Given the fact that where I live (BC) means I have to deal with some of the most challenging roads and conditions in North America daily, I’m confident I could get a job in a heartbeat down there in the States. And I should be able to write my own ticket up here too. But that is not the case.

    Up here we have a race to the bottom, both in rates, how companies operate, and skills of the drivers. Gone are the days when companies would at least pay a driver close to what he is worth. Gone are the days when mechanical condition of a truck was a high in a company’s mind. Gone are the relaxing days without cutthroat bucket shop and immigrant companies trying to undercut and lowball the rates to a point where everybody suffers. Gone are the days when oil was considered a positive force for development and the price refelected only what it actually cost to pump, transport and refine, plus a very small percentage of profit. Gone are the days when we could manage our hours that best suited ourselves and our individual physical and mental limits. Gone are the days where trucking was a proud and noble trade.

    I could get into a detailed explanation of each of those points, but the old school and not so old school guys out there fully understand what I am getting at. Locally, I find it hard to get a job because of the expereience I have. Companies here don’t want someone who expects to be paid fairly, operate safe machines, and not be micro-managed. Furthermore I only speak and operate in English, so that is definately a black mark on me now too. Companies don’t want me anywhere near them. I am not a slave to be treated poorly, be paid 1985 wages, and be willing to put on a stupid hat and fake and fudge everything to try and remain legal no matter how much the company forces it otherwise. I am not alone in this. I know many drivers like myself that have said to hell with it all and have left the industry over the last few years. They have taken themselves right out of the market. It’s just not worth it for them to continue.

    If companies would not try and crater the rates. If companies would try and run sound equipment. If companies would place value on their number one employees. If governments would stop milking us with high added taxes and fees on fuel, and especially call it for what it is, theft, as opposed to the bullshit climate change crap. If governments would stop trying to manage us in a one size fits all approach to hours of service and all the other rules and regulations (weren’t we supposed to be de-regulated?) they keep piling on. If governments would stop allowing mass waves of immigration, which bring in all sorts of shady operators and willing slaves for the shady operators to use. If all us experienced and skilled drivers all stood up together and say enough is enough, and all walked away at the same time. Then, and only then would you see an actual shortage of drivers. But it would make many players in the industry take notice and maybe change all the reasons why they are pretending there’s a current driver shortage.

    And pigs fly.

  23. Robert says

    The turnover is due to the treatment of the drivers more than the pay. As a person who has been a dispatcher and a driver I have experienced and seen the bad and rude treatment. Trucking company office employees need to learn to better treat the drivers and with respect.

  24. Ken says

    Less than minimum wage
    70 hours or more per week
    Living in a jail cell like “sleeper” compartment for weeks at a time
    Crazy hours
    Over-priced truck stop grissle
    Target on your back for DOT and the Poh-Poh
    Insane and/or totally unaware 4 wheelers
    Rude, angry shippers and receivers
    Incompetent, shifty dispatchers (and you better not make them mad)
    All manner of weather conditions
    Oh and has anyone mentioned – it’s a very dangerous job!

    Why is there always a driver shortage again?

  25. Jason says

    Well for one what’s walmarts turnover rate? They get paid Miliage and they get paid to do the 10hr break. And be home on weekends. Why would you quit? FedEx is the same way. They pay hourly plus ppm. The problem isn’t lack of drivers it’s lack of good companies. See ata or anyone else can speculate what they want. They don’t drive, we do. And larger companies (swift, Schneider, Werner, averitt, create, crst, kllm,usx, jb hunt, celedon, and many others have problems holding drivers, cause they treat drivers like they own us, like prisoners. Poor pay, poor attitudes, oh but they love you if you will run illigal. I work for a company that is a decent company go home when you want and run as much as you can. Legally! Those companies have crappy reputations cause they lie, the rob the drivers, they treat you like garbage. I was told that jb treats you like this for the first year to see if you will stay. I was out 4wks at a time making 200, 450$ a week. I was verbally harassed, I was told I was going to be charged in winter time for my idle when I’d sit in Maine for 3days. Usx they charged me for breakdown pay and hotel stay when the tanks gelled up in 14degree weather I sat in my truck 7 hrs before I was finally given a ride to hotel. Mind you that was 1 week b4 Christmas and I made -259$ that’s right minus 259$ I sat at motel for 4days. I needed my own reasons to hate big companies and I found it. I call work and I say hey man, and it’s hey Jason. No numbers, no codes, no one saying I use to drive, I could make it work. I think most people come into trucking thinking its a cake walk, it’s not!!!

  26. Jason says

    We need to get a representing body, to really represent us. Not union, not Ata not organazations lobbying for their own agenda!

  27. Tim M. says

    As long as the trucking companies can find “drivers” who will sacrifice their own lives to live in a truck to make them money, it will continue. OTR drivers are willing to give a lot of time to their employers, It’s time they are paid and recognized for the work they do. Drivers give away a big part of their lives for a measly check, and NO REAL respect. It’s has become expected for a driver’s whole life to revolve around their means to earn a check, and just try to make a living. I drove over the road for one year. Never again! I have a life, and will not throw it away for a company only concerned about raking in profits at the cost of personal life.

  28. Tim M. says

    Not when you consider all the “downtime”, and extras involved, fueling/maintaining a company vehicle, wait time at docks, communicating for the next load, and not getting decent sleep at regular intervals (DOT regs are rediculous).
    You drive 100 miles in traffic, and take 2-3 hours to do it, you make $25-16.66/hr sounds reasonable, when you end up sitting for 10 hours everyday, your away from home, buying food , doing laundry, paying out of pocket expenses, and everything else to be able to do the job

  29. Tom says

    Just coming out of trucking school for Pam I literally praying I make it thru the 1st yeAr I want to be a owner my 2nd year

  30. says

    I have said before that the drivers need to make a statement that people will remember, but actually striking is not the answer. Educating the public is the answer. I envision a public relations campaign at Christmas – The industry could run an ad on television as well as print media that portrays a family sitting in the living room. The father is reading his newspaper, smoking a pipe. Grandma and mom are in the kitchen baking cookies. The kids are sitting in front of the fireplace playing with their puppy. Through the window, you can see the snow falling. What a beautiful scene. Now, take away everything that came by truck. What do you have? Six naked people in a snowbank! That’s what you have. Most people never stop to think about how things get to the stores. How many times have you seen a train pull into Wal-Mart? Trucking is a vital part of our existence, and I Have wanted to establish a P.R. firm for the industry for many years, but have never acted upon the idea. I really think it has merit.

  31. Rob says

    I was making over that when I retired if you added everything up. The good jobs are out there, but you have to know what you are doing and have very good people skills, the driving is the easy part. Drove for 35 years, always had 2 days off a week at least one at weekends. It is not a job for everyone.

  32. says

    I work for Schneider as a part time driver Mon-Thur. Off Fri-Sun gross $500-$600 a week .
    Thats the only way I could stay in trucking after over 20+ years. Life is too short to live in a truck for weeks at a time. Good luck and God bless to all my fellow drivers.

  33. big z says

    Why this doesnt surprise me is because those fine lovely gentelmen not busting their hump to keep the company afloat and playing with drivers miles and pay cant figure out why driver dont stick here is a hint, we aint stupid they get paid better than us we get pennies and we are their bread and butter so until they figure that out this is what they are gonna get.

  34. MekanicJim says

    I’m not a driver but I have the lic to drive. As well as many of my coworkers do as well.
    We are maintance mechanics in a plant. we make 45K working a standard 40 hour week.
    The OTR life is our last resort if the plant shuts down. Now if the pay was different as well as home time then maybe we would still be in the OTR life……..

    Are you paying attention Sleaze ball trucking companys!!!!????
    Do you like to constantly be hireing new people only to watch them walk shortly threrafter???

  35. Tim says

    You speak in absolutes; “NEVER”, “ALL”, “EVERY” and you are absolutley NOT correct even some of the time. Your narrow, negative view of ALL truck drivers fails to recocognize the cause and effect of the company vs driver relationship. What came first? The attitude or the reason for the attitude? Respect your driver with a quality wage and decent working conditions and your driver churn will disappear with the bad attitudes and your only turnover will be due to old age. BTW, Make it illegal to pay OTR per mile and all the problems disappear. No more waiting for shippers to have your load ready, it will be waiting for you. Your recievers will be charged for making you wait and you will have your next dispatch before you finish the one you are on. I was making, per mile, in 1989 what most of these drivers are making today. I got out of the freight industry and haul driveaway (piggy-backs). Still getting screwed, but I make good money.

  36. steve says

    get out while you can,do not make the mistake i did they all lie to you even the schools. there is no money in it i talked to truckers who have 20 plus years in they made more then then they do now.they just want you to make them money they could care less about you making it.

  37. steve says

    why dont you do it,clean the industry up if you care that much about people that promise you eveything but give you the make $700 a week for 70 hours 10 bucks and hour and your never home,and sancho is at your home

  38. David Norton says

    this is evan a bigger proble and if you look at the top 10 companys they have high driver turn over these are horrible companys to drive for. they trat their drivers like dirty socks ,leave them sitting for days with no food or money .low miles .cheap pay

  39. Jay says

    If new drivers were better educated about these companies a lot of these problems would be solved. These companys don’t care about drivers as they have a huge revolving door. If one driver quits they have another ALREADY in training. Plus they’re starting out at minimal pay. Why keep 1 driver at 70000 a year when you can have 2 drivers at 40000?

  40. Roger B says

    I got out in 1997. Took a Job with a company in 2008 in SC driving BMW parts cause I missed driving local for 15 per hour. The same money I made when I started drivind in 1986? The dispatchers hated the drivers and thought we were all A holes. The feeling was mutual. I seen more drivers come and go in 1 year there than my whole career at Publix Supermarkets. Pay is the biggest problem. If drivers made a living wage they would put up with the dispatches crap.
    Its pretty sad when I make more money cutting grass in less than 25 hours a week than working 70 hours as a driver. My heart will always be with big trucking. Hope it will change some day.

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