Year after year, companies struggle more and more with driver retention and shortages in the trucking industry. It’s an extremely costly problem. Truck driver retention, or the lack thereof, can come at a massive cost, especially when considering the average cost of hiring a driver – $12,000. It’s safe to say that putting even a dent in retention efforts would increase profits dramatically.
Truck Driver Retention Statistics
According to a yearly survey conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), for five straight years, the driver shortage has been a top concern for motor carriers. The “Great Resignation” has hit the transportation industry hard. In 2021, there was a reported 80,000 driver deficit. If current trends continue, the driver shortage could surpass 160,000 drivers in 2030.
“It really is no surprise that truck driver-related issues – notably the driver shortage and driver retention – ranked so high on the survey. Coming out of the pandemic, with the increased demand for goods and other pressures on the supply chain, getting and keeping drivers has been a real challenge industrywide,” said ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster.
What’s Causing the Truck Driver Shortage?
There really isn’t one single cause for the driver shortage. According to the American Trucking Association, some of the primary factors affecting hiring and retention include:
- High average age of current drivers, leading to a high number of retirements
- Women making up only 7% of all drivers, well below their representation in the total workforce
- Inability of some would-be and current drivers to pass a drug test
- Federally mandated minimum age of 21 to drive commercially across state lines makes it challenging to recruit new drivers
- Some drivers left the industry as a result of the pandemic
- Truck driver training schools trained far fewer drivers than normal in 2020
- Lifestyle issues such as time away from home, especially in the longer-haul market
- Inability of potential candidates to meet carriers’ hiring standards for driving records or criminal histories
As many of these factors are out of a company’s control, what strategies can you implement to help retain your drivers and decrease high turnover rates? We explore three driver retention strategies you can implement below.
How Can I Retain My Truck Drivers?
Reward Your Best Drivers
While intervening when drivers receive violations is crucial in reducing your company’s driver risk, it’s important to consider that only about 10% of drivers cause 40% of a company’s crash-related costs. This means that a majority of your drivers are most likely practicing good driving behavior. With this in mind, incentivizing your drivers is a great way to keep them engaged and motivated to work for your company. It promotes safe driving, and helps drivers feel recognized and appreciated. Your rewards program for safe drivers can include a snack or lunch budget, vehicle gear, title recognition, or even leadership opportunities. Beyond good driving behavior, you can also reward drivers for time committed to the job. By offering merit increases or bonuses after a certain amount of time with the company, you can incentivize them to stay long-term.
Implement an Impactful Driver Training Program
In order to ensure your drivers are consistently safe behind the wheel, it’s important to implement a comprehensive driver training program. Training is not something that should be offered only during onboarding or after a violation occurs. Companies that offer frequent training can help drivers improve their skills over time. This also allows you to catch drivers before they are disqualified – preventing firings and helping you retain talent. Better yet, with the right driver monitoring software, you can keep an eye out for violations year-round and tailor your assigned training based on what each individual driver needs to improve on.
Your ongoing training should be engaging – not just a lecture or outdated video. It should be easy to access on any device and convenient for drivers to watch on their own time. You should also cover a variety of topics, instead of just assigning the same videos repeatedly. We recommend training your drivers on a new topic every month.
Improve Your Onboarding Process
Problems with dispatchers and managers are a common reason drivers leave. This can cultivate from the moment a driver is hired if the onboarding process is outdated and tedious. A comprehensive online onboarding program can set a great tone for your new-hires when it comes to showcasing how your company operates and that you respect their time.
Face-to-face training on topics like how to log hours, submit reimbursement requests or enroll in your benefits program can feel mundane. By moving the repetitive aspects of new-hire orientation online, the driver’s first in-person interaction can be a friendly meeting instead of an impersonal lecture. It also frees up in-person time to explain how to successfully work with dispatch, handle disputes and minimize miscommunications. This helps build a foundation of positive relationships – your new-hires will feel like they’re part of a friendly, hard-working team instead of just another anonymous cog in the machine.
Want to learn more? Download our free guide to discover how we’ve made it easy to hire and retain better drivers while also cutting driver onboarding costs in half.