What ATA Says About Driver Turnover

Driver turnover poses an ongoing problem for trucking companies across the United States. It’s expected to continue even as signs of post-pandemic economic recovery are emerging. In March 2021, the American Truck Associations (ATA) released a quarterly employment report indicating that driver turnover among large truckload fleets remained unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2020, despite tight freight capacity and the lingering effects of COVID-19. This followed a 10% increase to 92% during the third quarter of 2020 for large truckload carriers and a 14% increase to 74% for smaller truckload carriers. The ATA driver turnover report encourages carriers to address current and future driver turnover problems by resolving any driver recruitment and retention issues they are facing.

Economic Recovery Tightens Driver Market

Following a second-quarter drop in driver turnover that resulted from the pandemic, the rise seen in Q3 signaled an increased demand for truck drivers and freight. “After a calamitous second quarter, trucking – along with the rest of the economy – began recovering in the third quarter, leading to a tightening of the driver market,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With a more robust freight market, we saw an increase in carriers seeking drivers, which led to increased turnover.” 

And while Costello notes that “it may seem surprising that the turnover rate didn’t jump in the fourth quarter as economic activity and freight traffic increased,” he says that this may have been the result of strong freight demand simply keeping drivers too busy to consider changing jobs.

Expect an Even Greater Demand for Drivers

While the trucking industry’s decade-long driver shortage was temporarily eased last year during the worst of the pandemic, the continued tightening of the driver market is expected to pose an ongoing challenge for carriers through 2021 and beyond. “The driver pool has decreased this year for a host of reasons,” says Costello, “including fewer new drivers coming into the industry as truck driver training schools train less drivers due to social distancing requirements.” 

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Costello agrees with many others that the recently passed stimulus package and the high rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. will trigger continued economic improvement. This will create an even greater demand for truck drivers and tighten the market further. 

Importance of Driver Recruitment and Retention

So what exactly does this mean for large fleet owners? As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic, finding qualified, experienced drivers will remain a challenge. According to the ATA driver turnover report, if trucking companies want to see improvements in driver turnover going forward, they will need to focus their efforts on driver recruitment and retention. These are the two main issues facing trucking companies today. 

WorkHound is a company committed to helping fleet owners retain their workforce by eliminating the guesswork and gathering real-time feedback from drivers. Contact WorkHound today to find out how we can help you resolve your driver turnover and retention issues.