Truck driver turnover - why so high?

Discussion in 'Questions To Truckers From The General Public' started by KRPS, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. KRPS

    KRPS Bobtail Member

    Dec 4, 2012
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a public radio journalist and I'm working on a story about truck driver turnover. Ideally, I'm looking for truckers from our listening area -- Southeast Kansas, Southwest Missouri, Northeast Oklahoma, and Northwest Arkansas. But anyone here who would like to comment on why truck driver turnover is so high compared to other industries is welcome to do so. You can comment here or e-mail me directly at ereid [at] pittstate [dot] edu.

    Liz Reid
    mje Thanks this.
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  3. critters

    critters <b>Late For Dinner</b>

    Jul 16, 2011
    traverse city,MI
    turn over rate in my opinion is centred around the newer drivers,not realising what it takes to be a OTR driver,being away from family,dealing with dispatchers,the thinking that is a way to make quick money easily.
    Skydivedavec, Colorato, Joetro and 3 others Thank this.
  4. Allow Me.

    Allow Me. Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    May 28, 2009
    Rancho Mirage, Ca.
    Most newbies don't fully understand about the trucking "lifestyle". There's so much more than just driving down the highway. Piloting a big truck into strange cities in all kinds of weather and dealing with the unknown constantly is a rude awakening for many. Then take into account you may not get a shower for a day or 2 or get home when you want. There's a lot of time to think in this biz. When you are sitting in a strange city waiting for a load, your mind wanders, and you miss your family and your home. So for many, it's bye-bye trucking in a short amount of time.
    Colorato, critters, Joetro and 4 others Thank this.
  5. CondoCruiser

    CondoCruiser The Legend

    Apr 18, 2010
    Hi Liz! First you have large companies that train new drivers and use that as an excuse to pay low wages. You have to fill seats so why not take advantage of the situation? Then you have recruiters who are like used car salesmen making false promises and painting a picture of a Tahitian island. How would you feel if you worked 70 hours and got paid a $200 check? That gets many new drivers. They aren't prepared or too impatient to pay their one year of earning their stripes. It usually takes up to a year to start earning some good money.

    Then there is being away from home. Truck driving can be hard on a relationship and a circle of friends you left behind.

    Then there are new drivers that aren't cut out for the trucking lifestyle. They realize there is a whole bunch more to the job than just driving. You have to deal with road rage, congested highways, irate customers, hundreds of FMCSA regulations, law enforcement looking for one wrong move with fines in the thousands and even companies pressuring you to get a load completed regardless of what it takes. Though new regulations are putting a stop to illegal running time restraints can be stressful.

    You can bounce around work shifts constantly messing up your Arcadium Rhythm making you always tired. Then there are times drivers do other things than driving and since they are paid by the mile that stuff can be free work if they don't get accessory pay.

    Exercise and eating correctly is a challenge as most places you stop at serve junk food. Driving 11 hours can be hard on one's eyes and tired eyes is enough to make anyone exhausted. Though many new drivers can fight the system it eventually catches up to them when they get older. Truck drivers are known to knock 10-15 years off their life.

    It's not the easiest job in the world and takes a special person with extreme patience. I like to think someone is born to drive a truck just like someone is gifted with singing or playing an instrument. You either have it or you don't.

    I'd say about one in six make it past six months. Then there are drivers that will take breaks for a year or two but they always come back to driving. It gets in your blood where you miss it. The one's that do make it experience many things the average person doesn't get to do like seeing the country and watching many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. If you like watching people you see anything and everything. Plus you build your own family of friends on the road. It has it's benefits and financial rewards for those that play their cards right.
  6. Colorato

    Colorato Road Train Member

    Feb 22, 2011
    To add to the the good points made above. Another issue with driver turnover amongst newer drivers can be higher because they have the "grass is greener" mentality and think another mega fleet is going to treat them better or run them more because of what a poster says so they job hop too much in the first year then no real companies will touch them.

    Experience and respect is earned not given.
  7. S M D

    S M D Road Train Member

    Mar 15, 2012
    sacramento ca
    U can count 400 trucks within 20 minutes... someone has To roll mostly the insecure people there is a bunch of those today
  8. RickG

    RickG Road Train Member

    Jul 22, 2008
    Owensboro , KY
    As others mentioned the turnover is mostly with new drivers . Does a carrier with 4,000 drivers and 100% turnover have everybody quit ? Of course not . 3,000 of their drivers most likely stay more than a year leaving 1,000 open jobs . The new drivers last an average of a few months resulting in 4,000 drivers being hired to fill these positions .
    It is also important to note that the high turnover is only in the truckload OTR sector which is mostly made up of the large starter companies that hire trainees . Turnover in LTL (less than truckload like ABF , Yellow Freight , UPS ) is less than 10% .
  9. merlensbox

    merlensbox Bobtail Member

    Aug 30, 2012
    As an OTR driver with only one year of experience i would say its because pay is too low. The only reason i stay is because i love the open road. Its definitely not for the money. Being paid around 600 dollars a week for a solid 70-80 plus hours of work that is most certainly going to negatively impact my health long term. Did i mention the part about not going home for months on end? (Thats parts actually not a big sacrifice for me. I have always enjoyed being alone with my thoughts.) The low pay and negative health impacts do weigh on my mind though.

    Am i going to quit? Hell no! i love being out here! And i hear the pay gets much better after year two.
  10. STexan

    STexan Road Train Member

    Oct 3, 2011
    Longview, TX
    Economics. Jobs are hard to come by, good, bad or otherwise. The flood of trucking companies advertise with the lure of "big money", "free training", "be your own boss", etc. But the economy is in the tank for all intents and purposes, so why are trucking companies consonantly hiring when there is much less freight then there is capacity (at the larger companies)? Tax breaks and credits. Plus they can pay a new driver beans and rice for 4-8 weeks and create a "team" or "super single" to boost their profits while other trucks sit gathering dust, and these new drivers never make it to the insurance cost phase so they never incur any benefit costs but they reap the benefits of their very cheap labor.

    A month or 2 later, the driver gets fed up with the low wages, combined with no family time and poor working environment, quits, probably even leaving some pay behind for a variety of reasons, and the next guy in line steps in and the cycle continues. As other jobs remain non-existent, trucking companies can game the system to no end to their advantage.

    But this is just another reason among MANY MANY reasons. Trucking and the tax and employer laws is somewhat unique in how labor can be wildly taken advantage of, legally. A CEO or CFO will not tell you this, and most drivers are not privy to the economics side of the mega-carrier industry.

    It costs a lot of money to pre-hire a driver, bring them to orientation, train them, house them, medical them, etc, and they do this in phenomenal numbers every month (the large mega-carriers). They could apply more hiring criteria, and pay better, and offer [better] benefits and be profitable. But STILL, the tax credits and deductions make it worthwhile to run a business like they do as opposed to any other business who looks for quality people and does what it takes within reason to keep them.
  11. Zen Trucker

    Zen Trucker Road Train Member

    Aug 9, 2012
    Because that is the mega carriers business model. Promise them everything, give them nothing and hire someone else to take their place. My company's turnover is 5%.
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