Pay and Safety Affect Truck and Van Fleet Driver Retention

With a freshly revived economy, businesses are doing their best to attract new talent to the workforce. But for fleets, holding on to existing drivers is equally important. So far in 2021, average driver turnover at large trucking fleets was at 92%, while at smaller fleets, it was 72%, according to the American Trucking Associations’ latest employment report.

This number may differ for different industries, but turnover is still a significant problem for all fleets because turnover is expensive.

Driver Turnover is Costly

The hiring process and subsequent training of new drivers costs money and affects the profitability of your company. Turnover is still a significant problem for all fleets because turnover is expensive.

It also takes time for new employees to get in the flow of a new working environment before maximizing their efficiency. The last thing you want as a business owner interested in providing good service is a revolving door of new hires.

That is why driver retention should be a priority for any fleet. But the only way to stop employees from leaving is to find out the root cause of their departure. There are many reasons drivers might leave, like low pay, unsafe working conditions, or simply because they don’t feel appreciated. But the bottom line is that if drivers don’t want to work for you, they will not stick around.

Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Improving Driver Retention Starts at the Top

The first step to addressing a turnover problem is a commitment from management and ownership. It takes time and effort to root out the causes and come up with a solution, and without a directive and support from the top, a business will have a hard time fixing the problem.

“It really does start from senior managers, from the ownership, from the people at the top of the food chain in your business,” said Ray Haight, the retention coach for the Truckload Carriers Association’s Profitability Program in a seminar on retention. “They’ve gotta be 100% committed to turning this turnover number around.”

The leadership of a company can’t force drivers to stay. Still, they do hold the authority to address many of the following issues, including the number one reason drivers leave a company, pay.

Money is the Main Reason Drivers Leave

Perhaps the biggest reason that drivers leave is low pay. Particularly in times of growth, where more jobs are available, drivers may decide to find more money at another fleet.

Businesses must regularly examine their pay structures and ensure they are in line with the rest of their sector and geographic location. Fleets looking to grow should aim to offer pay at the highest end of the spectrum, whereas fleets that are more stable can place wages closer to the median. But offering below-average pay is a surefire recipe for turnover.

Just as critically, fleets should ensure that their longtime drivers’ wages are keeping up as well, or they may lose some of their most valuable employees.

“Drivers aren’t particularly happy when they’ve been with you for a number of years, and you just hired somebody last week, and they’re making the same amount of money they are,” said Haight.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

Don’t Make Your Drivers Wonder if it’s Worth it to Stay

Other more nebulous factors can contribute to turnover as well.

Is the equipment you provide in good shape? For some fleets, having vehicles that are constantly in disrepair doesn’t just affect the company’s profitability but also the driver’s.

Are the working conditions safe? Safety can apply to poorly maintained vehicles but also to needs out in the field. Are the places your drivers spend time in safe?

“I’m convinced that a lot of families want their spouses to work at safe companies, and a lot of companies miss the ball here,” said Haight. “If you’ve got a good safety record, flaunt it.”

Consistency is also an area that fleets may miss when trying to improve retention. It is essential to have standardized procedures for work that are being enforced and followed by everyone, whether it comes to safety or relationships.

If a driver feels that they are being handled by management differently from another driver, they may perceive it as unfairness. Simply put, treat your drivers the same and stick to the rules you set.

Community Connects Drivers to their Work

Even if the pay is good, the equipment is sound, and the rules are clear, to keep drivers invested for the long term, they need to feel connected to their workplace.

Offer opportunities to connect with other coworkers like holiday parties or social media and other forums. Recognition for accomplishments can also go a long way toward making drivers feel appreciated.

Another avenue for connection is in helping drivers with their career aspirations. The ultimate goal for a fleet is to retain a driver who is both professionally and personally satisfied with their job. But life has a way of making people consider their options. Fleets can consider offering opportunities for education or cross-training into a new role within the company.

It’s always important to remember that drivers talk, and they can be your best recruiting tool. It may even be worth it to start a referral program and offer training for drivers to become recruiters.

There are many ways that fleets can improve their retention numbers and fight high turnover. The solutions may not be the same for every business or situation, but it is worthwhile to find out.

“People stay in situations that they like and leave the ones they don’t,” said Haight. “There’s no quick fix; there’s no shortcuts”


If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help you optimize your fleet management and driver management, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.


TCA Profitability Program (TPP) Driver Retention Project

Turnover Remained Unchanged at Large Truckload Fleets in Fourth Quarter- American Trucking Associations

Driver Wages Are A Top Factor in Retention- National Transportation Institute

Driver Retention: the Importance of Investing in Your Driver Fleet – HNI

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