Truck driving is a demanding, high-stress job that involves time away from family and friends, especially for long hauls. This is part of the reason why driver retention and turnover have been a significant problem in many fleets across North America for over a decade.
Multiple causes of driver dissatisfaction contribute to high levels of churn, adding to the complexity of solving driver shortages. These shortages create intense competition among fleets for skilled drivers, and statistics show that the labor market is likely to grow tighter.
Fleets can mitigate shortage and retention challenges by understanding driver trends, addressing pain points, and implementing systems that support driver satisfaction and success.
Eye-opening driver shortage numbers
The current and impending growth of driver shortages emphasizes the importance of driver retention and satisfaction for fleets.
Bob Costello, Chief Economist for the American Trucking Association, stated that the driver shortage climbed to 80,000 in 2021. Demographic trends and freight growth could double the driver shortage to 160,000 by 2030. Overall, estimates project that the trucking industry will need to recruit nearly one million new drivers to address increased freight demand, driver retirements, and other industry issues.
Driver turnover increases the labor challenges faced by fleets. Costello noted that truck fleets categorized as over-the-road operations experience turnover rates of around 90%. Some drivers leave the industry, but most switch fleets. As driver shortages become more severe, carriers will be more aggressive to poach top talent from each other.
Fleets offer higher wages and signing bonuses when poaching drivers from rivals, increasing labor costs. Studies show that the cost of replacing a driver varies from several thousand dollars to more than $20,000 for truck drivers with specific endorsements on their CDL, such as HAZMAT.
Aging demographics for the trucking industry will mean that fleets need to adjust to attract a younger, more diverse group of drivers. Carriers that act to address pain points for seasoned and new drivers will reduce churn and access a larger, more diverse labor pool.
Pain points that cause driver turnover
Truck drivers navigate a series of complex professional and regulatory challenges that other workers don’t deal with. This ranges from HOS and DVIR rules to endorsements for dangerous loads. Infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with the growth of the trucking industry, causing serious problems such as a lack of safe parking spots for truck drivers.
Trucking companies have limited say in most regulatory matters. Instead, fleets should focus on making it easier for drivers to successfully comply with rules and regulations, including ELD regulations in the United States and Canada.
Drivers saddled with ELDs that don’t meet their needs experience unnecessary frustration. Technology is great when it works, and an impediment when it doesn’t. Some of the common issues that drivers experience with ELDs include:
- Unnecessary features or apps
- Systems that demand too much attention
- A complicated user interface
- Solutions that require intensive training
- ELDs with downtime and outages
Drivers who use solutions that waste time and create frustration are more likely to jump to another fleet compared to those with trucking tools that they like to use. Leading in-cab solutions go beyond ELDs to save time for drivers while optimizing fleet operations.
Great technology makes life easier fleetwide
Giving drivers reliable tech helps them perform their jobs safely and efficiently while maintaining compliance and preventing downtime. Dispatchers and fleet managers also benefit from greater fleet visibility and insight into potential optimizations across the entire business.
In-cab systems such as the ISAAC solution simplify trucking in a variety of ways, including:
- Automatic adjustment of ELD regulations and functions at border crossings
- Clear communication with drivers and faster responses to queries
- Automatic updates for HOS status when drivers report activities
- Instant syncing of driver logbooks and trip sheets
- Unassigned driving event reporting
- Predictive driver workflows that require as few screen taps as possible
Clearly, technology isn’t the only way to improve the retention of drivers, but they will respond favorably to companies that make their life easier. Our in-depth guide to driver retention and satisfaction provides a comprehensive look into different ways fleets prevent churn and thrive through driver shortages.