How to Improve Your Driver Retention

Under pressure from a severe shortage of truck drivers, US trucking companies are facing driver turnover rates of over 95% in both the large and small truckload sectors. Much of the turnover can be attributed to churn, as drivers chase scarcity-driven higher salaries. Watch Bob Costello, American Trucking Associations Chief Economist, providing an update on the driver shortage in the US trucking industry.

Turnover costs fleets big. The cost of hiring a single driver averages $5000. And given the nationwide shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 drivers, chances are slim that a new driver will come on board for the same salary as the driver he is to replace.

Fleets in the UK are also experiencing a shortage of driving staff, with the high cost of qualifying for the required Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) discouraging young drivers from entering the field. Lifestyle issues such as long and difficult shifts contribute to the UK shortages as well. As in the US, wages have been rising due to increased competition for drivers, putting pressure on many companies.

Be proactive and explore all root causes of the driver shortage

Given these drastic statistics, retaining good drivers is crucial for the smooth functioning, the morale and the bottom line of most fleets. But with fierce competition for each driver, how can fleets retain the drivers they have?

Keeping salaries competitive is one obvious measure to keep drivers on board. But in general, long-term loyalty can’t be bought. In a recent survey of company drivers, only one-third of respondents cited compensation and mileage as the reason they left previous jobs, with another 19% naming schedules and off-time as the reason they quit. A significant 17% named management and the work environment as the reason they left, 15% were dissatisfied with routes, loads and equipment, and 13% cited company policies and communication (or lack thereof).

A study of driver turnover and retention conducted for the Center for Intermodal Freight Transportation Studies of the University of Memphis and Vanderbilt University confirms that non-financial issues such as the work environment, interaction with managers, equipment conditions, and company policies can make or break driver retention efforts. Researchers identified the following six factors that promote driver retention:

  1. Training
  2. Driver respect, appreciation and recognition
  3. HOS recording
  4. Dispatcher effectiveness
  5. Well-maintained equipment/fewer breakdowns
  6. Open communication with dispatchers, managers and supervisors

Engage with your drivers! 

In today’s very competitive environment, GreenRoad helps companies truly engage and connect with drivers they wish to retain. It challenges drivers to grow and excel, using proven tools and highly effective feedback loops. GreenRoad empowers drivers to quickly learn and internalize safer, less risky driving behaviors and benchmark their own progress toward fuel-conserving, equipment-friendly driving.

Live fleet tracking, dispatch verification and hot-spot identification enables managers to ease drivers’ experiences on the road, while vehicle health and monitoring helps fleets keep equipment in top shape. A HOS app takes the tedium out of HOS recording, and provides accurate records that keep drivers safe and help fleets avoid costly fines. The Fleet Elite program provides a highly successful framework for recognizing and rewarding drivers’ accomplishments.

Perhaps most importantly, GreenRoad’s change management methodology establishes open and effective communication between drivers and managers around expectations and goals and builds the kind of strong bonds of mutual respect that keep drivers satisfied and loyal.


 Survey by Strategic Programs, Inc. Cited on Truck Driver Retention site

 Examining Driver Turnover and Retention in the Trucking Industry, by Haskel D. Harrison and Julianne Pierce, March 2009.