Is retaining truck drivers all that important? It’s no secret there’s a shortage of drivers in the trucking industry, but how bad is it? “The truck-driver shortfall swelled to a record 296,311 in the second quarter of this year, according to FTR Transportation Intelligence. The change was swift: In the fourth quarter of 2015, less than a 10th that many driver jobs went unfilled.” — Fortune.

A driver shortage is already causing significant disruptions for carriers all over the nation. A couple of years ago we needed CDL drivers to transport trailers from our facility in Plainfield, IN to a location in Terre Haute about 60 miles away. They were nearly impossible to find. I can’t imagine what recruiting is like for full-time transportation and logistics businesses today. One of the answers to the shortage is retaining truck drivers.

What Can Be Done?

We’ve written about recruiting drivers, but what good is it to bring recruits when turnover is 100% and more. Wait, how can you lose more than 100%. When turnover isn’t only new recruits but existing drivers as well. “According to ATA’s Trucking Activity Report, the annualized turnover rate at large truckload carriers – fleets with more than $30 million in annual revenue – jumped six points to 94%. The increase set turnover at these carriers 20 percentage points higher than in the first quarter of 2017.” — ATA (American Trucking Association)  So, solving the truck driver shortage begins with retaining drivers.

Retaining Truck Drivers


Retaining truck drivers has much to do with how they’re paid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, released a report in May of this year showing the median annual salary for tractor-trailer drivers at $42,480. When you consider that the average full-time pay in American is more than $45,000, that truck drivers work long days, and may stay on the road for weeks at a time; other jobs start looking pretty good. “Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 115.8 million full-time wage and salary workers were $876 in the second quarter of 2018 (not seasonally adjusted), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.” —   US Gov News Release.  


The days when health benefits, paid vacation, and a 401K were enough to retain employees is long past, especially in logistics. Drivers expect these benefits, and more. A driver can get these benefits anywhere. So, if there’s something that doesn’t sit right with a driver regarding their carrier, then don’t expect basic benefits to keep them at the company. However, expanded benefits can make a difference. Health and wellness packages, gym memberships, medical staff, earned accrued paid time off above beyond two weeks of paid vacation will all help with retaining truck drivers as well other valuable employees.


There may be nothing more critical to retaining drivers than a carrier’s culture. If you don’t think so, try this. Ask a driver if he or she has ever left a company to take a lower paying position at another company. You’ll be surprised how many have. And then ask them why. You’ll hear, lack of engagement, nobody would listen to them, they felt looked down upon by management and dispatchers, lack of recognition, no teamwork, closed-door leadership, and inferior equipment.

These disgruntled drivers felt as if no one cared. So, if you want to retrain drivers – show you care. How do you accomplish this? It’s easier than you may think. Ask your drivers what they want, listen to them, give them a seat at the table and then follow through.

And One More Point

It’s in the best interest of everyone to support truck drivers because a driver shortage affects us all.

 “What would happen if the trucking industry suddenly disappeared from our lives?

  • Groceries, fuel, medical supplies, garbage removal, and clean water would all soon become scarce.
  • In a week or two, garbage and waste would become more than a nuisance and an eyesore. It would become a potential health hazard.
  • Grocers would run out of perishables in two or three days.
  • Banks would run short of cash, and ATM’s would be out of money in as little as a day.
  • Hospitals and pharmacies would begin running out of medications. For example, some would be out of oxygen in only a day or two.
  • Lack of chemicals and supplies to water treatment plants would disrupt our water supply.
  • Most gas stations would be out of fuel in less than a week, and some, in a day.” — What would happen if the trucking industry suddenly disappeared from our lives?” — Life in America Without Trucking.

The Driver Shortage has a Far-ranging Impact

The truck driver shortage affects everyone. Every business and every family. Most of our jobs connect to the trucking industry. So, the more trucking suffers from the driver shortage, the more it affects us all.

One of the keys to the driver shortage is retention. However, another is the public perception of truck drivers. Go ahead, picture a truck driver in your mind’s eye. Did you visualize a woman, a young person, or a recent military veteran? If not, why not? Could it be that the public’s perception of who a truck driver is, holds people back from considering the occupation? #SupportTrucking

Photo Credit: Unsplash Photos Photo by Guillermo Sánchez