Better Strategy Could Help Ease Trucker Shortage, Retention Issues

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the industry was short approximately 60,800 drivers in 2018. With freight volumes steadily on the rise since the end of the Great Recession, that shortage is expected to become even more acute in coming years, with experts at the ATA predicting the number will surge to roughly 160,000 by 2028 if the upward progression persists. With that looming demand, your company’s driver retention strategy is crucial.

The ATA says that, last year, large for-hire truckload carriers and small for-hire truckload fleets experienced turnover rates of 89% and 73% respectively, likely due to aggressive recruiting tactics in the industry that’s seen carriers more frequently offering sign-on bonuses, higher wages and other benefits. Clearly, investing in perks like increased compensation rates and better health insurance could be the difference in keeping drivers on your team.

Performance recognition may also help with driver retention. Such initiatives can take many different forms, including a “driver of the month” program, bonuses for safe driving, or other rewards for distinctive driving metrics. Tying performance to objective measures can help incentivize your crew and play a large part in any decision by them to stay or look elsewhere.

Another action to take is to encourage driver feedback. Often when a company lends an ear, drivers feel inspired, and see themselves as true contributors to the organization. Surveys, suggestion boxes, and having fleet managers periodically meet with drivers are great ways to facilitate the dialogue. Opening avenues of communication can also provide the company with unique thoughts and insights that might not have been heard had channels not been encouraged.

According to Freight Waves magazine, the average cost of turnover is $11,500 per driver. Certainly, any strategic approach to retention will have upfront costs, but in the long run will provide great payoff. In a market defined by high demand and rising labor costs, the ability to keep solid, reliable drivers will inevitably have an impact on your bottom line. If your organization would like assistance in navigating throughout current conditions in the transportation and logistics sector, we invite you to contact ( and visit the Schneider Downs Transportation & Logistics Industry Group.

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The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at

Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

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