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7. Keeping drivers remains a challenge

Driver retention is closely related to the issue of driver shortage as many in the industry often cite driver turnover as a significant contributor to the driver shortage. There is increased competition among motor carriers for qualified drivers due in large part to the increased scrutiny of drivers and carriers under CSA. In addition, many drivers have left the industry for oilfield and construction positions.

This tight labor market means that motor carriers are working harder to retain existing drivers and also to recruit highly-qualified drivers. Research by ATA has shown that driver turnover continues to remain high among many carriers. During the second quarter of 2013, annualized driver turnover was 99% among large truckload fleets, indicating very high levels of turnover.20 The issue of driver retention goes beyond driver pay, and touches on issues surrounding driver quality of life, demographics, and workplace environment.

Proposed Strategies:

a) Help improve work/life balance, healthy lifestyles, and family relationships for drivers. Respondents who chose this strategy likely believe that the industry should work to improve the quality of life for commercial drivers as a way to stem the loss of drivers to other carriers and other industries. Drivers, particularly those operating in the long-haul sector, could benefit from programs that strengthen family connections and promote more healthy lifestyles. This strategy is preferred by 43.5% of respondents.

b) Research the basis for driver turnover by personality type, compensation models and industry business/operating models. Understanding the complex dynamics of driver turnover is important for developing an effective driver retention strategy. Over a quarter (26.2%) of respondents ranked this as their top strategy for addressing driver retention.

c) Study the effectiveness of carrier retention programs that financially incentivize drivers for safe driving performance. While driver pay is only part of equation when it comes to driver retention, it is nevertheless critical to retaining drivers. A safe driving record is one of the best indicators of a driver’s crash risk. By financially rewarding drivers who are safe, carriers could encourage safe drivers to remain with the company and incentivize other drivers to improve their safety-related behaviors. However, many in the industry, including the 30.4% of respondents that prefer this strategy, would like to see more research on the practice before implementing it.

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