Driver Turnover At Large Carriers Falls Sharply While Churn At Small Carriers Rises

Arlington, Virginia — On Wednesday The American Trucking Associations (ATA) released its latest figures on truck driver turnover in the fourth quarter of ’18 showing churn is falling at large carriers while smaller carriers are not so fortunate.

According to the report, in the fourth quarter, the turnover rate at fleets with more than $30 million revenue fell nine points to 78%. It is now 10 points lower than it was during the same quarter in 2017.

For the year, the turnover rate at large fleets averaged 89% – two points higher than the previous year.

At smaller carriers, the turnover rate rose five points to 77%. That mark was three points lower than the rate in the final quarter of 2017. The rate averaged 73% for the year – the lowest churn rate since 2011.

 

“The driver market continues to be tight, but not quite as much as the middle of 2018. The overall trend late last year was that turnover is slowing,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “There can be various reasons for this – either freight volumes are decelerating and as such fleets pulled back on recruiting efforts or fleets’ efforts to increase pay are paying dividends in the form or reduced turnover. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but it is a trend that bears watching.”

Turnover at less-than-truckload fleets was unchanged at 10% and averaged 11% on the year.


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Even though small carrier turnover ticked up in the Q4 ’18, large carrier turnover still is significantly higher. “Driver turnover is the biggest issue in trucking as far as safety is concerned,” David Owen, president of the 11,000-member National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC), in an interview last month with Transportation Nation Network.

According to Owen, NASTC members average 14-15 trucks, and enjoy a lower turnover rate because smaller carriers treat their drivers better. “Most of my guys’ turnover rates are in the teens not in the hundreds of teens. They make more money, they run more miles and have less driver turnover,” Owen commented.

 

Costello believes the slowing turnover at large carriers could be due to a couple of factors. “Either freight volumes are decelerating and as such fleets pulled back on recruiting efforts or fleets’ efforts to increase pay are paying dividends in the form or reduced turnover,” he said. “The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but it is a trend that bears watching.”

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