Turnover rate – Why it is so bad in Trucking

I Quit

I Quit

My take on, why the turnover rate, in the trucking industry, is so bad.

It used to be that drivers enjoyed trucking, they respected it.

Now, it has turned into a quick way for out of work “people” to get money.

What I mean is, all these factory’s closing, and jobs going away, people have had years of expierience, some even went to school for many years to be able to do some of the jobs.

Well, the local plant closes, and they are out of a job.

They see a trucking ad, in a local newspaper where in three weeks they can be trained to be a professional truck driver, and earn $40,000.00 per year. Yea right, maybe in a perfect world this would be true. I don’t blame the schools for the problem either, they have to go by a states curriculum, in order to teach someone to drive a truck. Some butt wipe in Washington, sitting behind a desk, makes up this curriculum, he/she has never been in a truck let alone spent weeks in a truck. But yet they are qualified to say what the student must learn in order to pass a driving test. Which is a joke, in most states. But, you really can’t blame the schools, they are following what the state says to do.

Now this student pays this school, anywhere from $3600.00 all the way up to $7000.00 dollars to get a license. NOT counting, having to pay for the license at the DMV, which can run pretty high depending on what you have. Three week course is made up of part class room, and part yard, and part road driving, some schools offer a night driving part as well. What gets me is, in the state of Kentucky in order for one to be a driving school instructor, you must go do a background check from the local police department. Then you go to the DMV, and you take a written test, then you go out in your “personal vehicle” and take a road exam. I am not making this up, I know because I did it. If you pass (80% is passing) they authorize you through the state to be a qualified Truck Driving school instructor.

Still, don’t blame the schools if you feel you didn’t receive adequate training. You got your license, didn’t you? It’s not the responsibility of the school to teach you how your company wants you to log. Schools teach you what a log book is, and gives a general idea, of how to fill one out. The school is not to blame, if you get a ticket for an out of service violation. Remember, you passed the schools pretrip test.

Anyway, why I think the turnover rate is so high. This job is NOT for everybody, there are only a few people this job is right for. People that come into this industry, are used to being home every night, sleeping in their own bed every night, taking a shower and eating supper in their own house. You drive a tractor trailer for a living, if you can find a parking place, and don’t have to stand in line for a long time at a truckstop, you might get supper and a shower at a decent hour. Most times you don’t. Now the big problem also is drivers have to much time on their hands, to think.

What happens if you get a call from home, and say the refrigerator tore up, and the wife is all upset, but you are a thousand miles away? Add to the fact that you are mad at your dispatcher for a load he/she has given you. Also, you may have had to drive late in the night. Now it is early next morning, you may have gotten 10 hours in the bunk, but you didn’t get enough rest. After you get “pissed” on the phone you hang up, now the thoughts set in.

Stress, is a big factor as to why the turnover rate is so high as well. Truck drivers deal with a lot every hour of everyday while they are on or off duty. Just as I stated above, you get to thinking, and drivers have a lot of time to think. Movies help, if you get time to watch them. A cell phone is almost a have to have, at least you can call somebody and talk to them about your problems. All these things are not explained, or they don’t sink in to an individual’s head, until it is to late. Pay is another big problem, but not much you can do about it, for the first year or so, it is something you need to deal with.

All these thing’s and probably a lot more that I have not mentioned cause the turnover rate to be very high in this industry. Most of the time though, if a driver can last a year or so, then he/she may make a career out of driving. But, only a few survive and when the others quit and go home that company hires a bunch more and replaces the one that just quit, and the cycle continues.

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I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | Contact Me |Truck Drivers News Facebook

13 thoughts on “Turnover rate – Why it is so bad in Trucking

  1. As a teacher in the industry since 2000′ I can agree with your article for the most part it is for sure a way of life, most get into not understanding the full depths of their sacrifices. I have coached well over 200 men from all walks of life, I not only teach drivers to develop a safe routine they can continue to develop but also how to handle the sadness that comes from the job but most importantly learning how to live life on the road as not to get trapped up in that circle of sadness. (Eat,sleep,drive,repeat) I teach them to chase their dreams, my goal is to show them trucking can be a lot of fun if you make it that way.

    It is a hard transition that some can not handle and to be honest it is no where near a normal life by any means. My father taught me a valued lesson many years ago. After winning my first state ATA trucking championship I asked my father (30 year 5 million mile accident free driver) “dad your a real professional why have you not competed in these championships you would blow them away.”

    He said simply ” Real truckers are out here delivering freight safely not playing trucker” It seemed so simple at the time so I blew it off for several years, like most young men do till those old lessons come back to them only confirming that their father was right and that they are more like their father then they had thought.

    That lesson applies here, Real truckers will always driver trucks and those playing trucker will find there way to a 9-5 job. The last thing I want is some depressed driver riding down the road next to my kids. I say good let them move on what ever brings them happiness but more importantly makes my journey a safer one.

    However recently turn over is at a all time low, people are so scared of ending up on the unemployment list that they’re stick it out rolling in a state of depression which as I’m sure you know is a very bad thing for the trucking industry.

    I’m back quiet – Trucker Steve

  2. It’s either in your blood or it’s not , period , end of story . Not everyone is cut out to drive a truck and right or wrong there needs to be a way to winnow the real drivers from the 9 to 5 clique . Yes , eventually they will leave the industry but how much damage will be done before the decide that they want their 9 to 5 jobs back .

  3. If you were a driver for Perkins logistics and specialized transportation LLc Noblesville IN, and have been ripped off by them as many have, please join in the effort to stop their scam. I am currently trying to get a petition together. This petition will ask that Perkins be investigated for its questionable Lease purchase program. I will in addition send a copy to the U.S. D.O.T. asking that they investigate these business practices. It is amazing that all the drivers for Perkins are never paid a cent and how they are getting away with it by their revolving door and deceptive hiring practices.

  4. I have been driveing for 15 years 5 of them OTR and I can tell you alot of these Companys need to respect there drivers with more time off when requested and better pay, bottom line.

  5. In addition to all the stress factors, too many owner/operators don’t understand that when you are leasing your own truck, your personal income taxes are not deducted from the check you receive from the Company. They file their returns and suddenly owe $10,000 to the Gov’t, because they never made any payments, and no tax was withheld by the Company (completely legal; when you are an owner/operator, YOU are the business, and YOU must plan for your tax payments to the government. You don’t fill out a W-4, and you don’t get to tell the Company to withhold payments on your behalf). They have ended up putting all their money toward family expenses and the like, and when April 15th rolls around, they barely have $200 to spare, much less $10,000.

    To they guy saying the Companies should pay better and give more time off, I agree with this general statement, but the rationale for the Company is this: Why pay more when there are so many other people just banging on the door, trying to get a job? If someone doesn’t like the pay, they are more than welcome to leave, and they will be replaced within days. This is not a high-dollar, high-skill industry. Yes, it’s not for everyone, but practically everyone can get a license if they try. It sucks, but that is the harsh reality.

  6. The main reason turnover is so high is due to burn out. You can not expect anyone to be gone from home and their families day after day week after week without some decent time off. And I don’t mean friday night to sunday afternoon. If I had a company I would require a driver to be off at least a couple weeks a year plus try to get them home on weekends and for special occasions. I bet I would have a high retention rate

  7. Please can you help me find a formula for calculating the turnover rate of truck and profitability of fleet of trucks and cost of a tonne transported by truck? I need it for as soon as possible
    thank you in advance.

  8. heres my opinon as to why turnover is so high its about pay and how the driver is delt with when there is a pay issue face it some of the people within th chain u have to deal with for any problem much less pay are either not trained on at least helping you solve the problem or could care less if you got paid with an attitude like take it or leave it or go somewhere else.youu get the feeling they dont want be bothered with you that may be ok a few times but when this happens over and over then you start feeling when ive got an issue who am gonna take it up with.you end up not having your problem solved thats ok if as long as its not affecting your livley hood bills have to get paid along with families fed what do you do.ive seen guys kicked out of there homes living in there trucks on food stamps.cause companys employees are not solving their pay concern and it allways ends up with that driver hoping to another company.i be willing to bet driver turnover would be cut in half if drivers pay concerns were addressed.ive drivin for 27yrs plus and never saw anyone quit any job truck drining incuded that got paid on time what was owed to them

  9. well i must say i enjoyed reading your letter and yes its not the schools . it the trucking companys them selfs that are driving these high turn over rates . i’v been driving since 1987 otr . all you have to do is look at the premises that are made to drivers . 1, be your own boss , that is if your fleet manger or dispatch is not breathing down your neck every minutes of every day , or that every cop in the country wants to write you a ticket for one thing or the other because they need the money for there town and no that theres about a 90% chance you will have no way to come back an fight it so you will just pay it . that every shipper and recver. in the country will treat you like crap . and think you are there slave and want you to load or unload there freight for nothing . 2 , see the country sure at 60 to 70 mph but you only find time once in a great while to injoy what you see . 3 , and this is my favorite one make the big money . sure you will make some good money if you get on with the right company at the right time . but its going to cost you big money to live out on the road . and that cost can go from 150 to 250 a week depending on your eatting habits , look at this way lunch two ham burgers fries and a coke cost about 10$ time 7 days is 70 dollars just for lunch in one week . and thats not counting any snacks . god help you if you want to eat breakfast and dinner because after all no self respecting trucker walks away with out leaveing a tip for the waitress . and if you are a smoker then there go’s another 60 bucks a week . so now your big 650 to 700$ a week pay check is now down to 450 to 550 $ take home . and i have not even said any thing about the rest of it , shampoo , soap , lundry , drinks , entertainment , cb , coolers , ice , tools , showers , and lets not for get the fee’s we all pay for check cash , atm , and my company charges me 10 $ for a 50 $ cash adv. so sure you might make some big money but its going to cost you big money to live on the road and trucking companys don’t pay any of this cost for drivers . 4. great working enivorment i love this one as well , great if you are a work aholic . 60 to 70 hours a week driving , 15 to 20 hours a week waiting to get loaded or unloaded . now that 550$ take home check is looking pretty small . in fax i think if you could get a job washing dishes and worked 70 to 90 hours a week you might make more money then an otr driver . now last but not least great home time , well i think all drivers no what this means , you will get home when the company can get you there no matter what time you ask to be there . then you will have 36 to 48 hours to do every thing that has been put off while you where on the road the last two or three weeks . and of course every one will try and hold you up , shippers and recvers , traffic , hours of service . i tell my family and friends sure i want to be there for the ball game , family outting , or just to hang out , but don’t wait for me go ahead and start with out me and if i can make it i will . well in closing let me say that trucking companys have brought on these high turn over rates on them selves with all the above .
    1, the cost of living on the road that the pay dose not cover any more
    2, poor working condision
    3, poor home time for the drivers that has an efect on the drivers health , both mind and body
    4, letting shippers and recvers treat there drivers like slaves not the good people most drivers are
    5, dispatchers or fleet mangers that treat drivers with no respect for the hard work drivers do every day
    6, over worked and under paid while these trucking companys show record profits.
    well brothers and sisters of the black top , keep the dirty side down . and remember we all have freinds and family that love us and can’t wait for us to come home . and a nation that depends on the work we do day in and day out . be safe out there

  10. ive been an otr truck driver 3yrs now.and let me tell u if u think money think again..yes u can earn money but its not easy…all though u are allowd tax per deim which is like around 52bucks a day .they say no receipt required but i kept mine ..good thing too i was audited last yr….the gov said i owed over 10,000 when after it was all said and done the irs actually owed me money.but theres alot times that fast food wrkers are doing better than me at minium wage…when u figure working 70hrs in a 8day period to the miles ran to the time sitting alot of times its like ur only making 3bucks an hr when it comes to over the road expenses to taxes to break downs to what ever u might run in too….i stay trucking because even thow its a high turn over rate in the trucking industry…. no ones hiring except transportation jobs….i hope this gives u an idea of how trucking is….

  11. The whole scope of the original article seemed to be pointed toward exonerating any blame for the cause of flooding the trucking industry with ill-trained or undertrained drivers by these “so-called” training institutions. That’s one of the biggest loads of horse pucky I’ve ever heard in my life. The author all but admits in his pointless diatribe that the CDL Mill trainers are often as unqualified to instruct drivers as the inexperienced drivers themselves:

    “What gets me is, in the state of Kentucky in order for one to be a driving school instructor, you must go do a background check from the local police department. Then you go to the DMV, and you take a written test, then you go out in your “personal vehicle” and take a road exam. I am not making this up, I know because I did it. If you pass (80% is passing) they authorize you through the state to be a qualified Truck Driving school instructor.”

    I’ve been a company driver-trainer for several years and I can tell you from experience most of these privately owned and operated CDL “schools” are part of the problem – not a part of the solution. Why – Simple. They are less interested in generating competent and safe drivers then they are with generating profit. More often then not these schools jam as many students into their programs as they can and most receive little to no actual training in safely operating a commercial motor vehicle. Teaching someone to get a CDL is NOT training them to drive a truck. That is left up to the individual carriers to add additional training on top of the CDL Mill schools. These mills use the excuse that they are only supposed to administer the very basic information, knowledge and skill levels required by their respective states. What is even worse is that there is little to no oversite – statistically speaking – by the Federal DOT or the FMCSA in tracking the competence or lack their of – of student drivers coming out of these institutions but I can almost guarantee that if statistics were kept in the areas of driver violations from graduates of these institutions the results would be staggering to say the least. The author states that it’s not these institution’s responsibility to train competent drivers but to simply instruct them to get a license to operate. So then – Who’s responsibility is it? The DOT? The individual carriers? The inexperienced driver trainees themselves? Where does the responsibility start? My own training came from a local 2-year community college program that was designed to actually train its students to drive and safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. I graduated with over 400 hours of actual “behind the wheel” training and a competent knowledge of the driver log procedures. After I completed the 8 week program I – as well as a majority of the other students in this program have gone on to be successful and SAFE drivers. Most of the prospective trainees that I have attempted to prepare for a driving job with my company were passed through their own CDL Mill institutions with less-than 25 actual hours under the steering wheel of a CMV. To me – that is utterly ridiculous!!! The job of a company trainer is NOT to teach students and trainees how to drive a truck – It’s our job to evaluate a prospective driver’s skill levels and teach them company rules and policy! We are NOT qualified to actively instruct under-prepared drivers to enter into this industry – That is the job of a licensed and registered training institution – But your failing miserably and without any oversite by the Fed – it’s only going to get worse before it gets any better. THAT’S the truth!!!

  12. As far as the factors of driver turnover rates – they are many and some are more obvious than others. One of the biggest factors in carriers turn-over is the “tactics” used by these larger carriers to recruit and hire drivers. To put it quite succinctly – they lie! Propaganda runs rampant through this industry like poison through a snake bite. What is promised by these larger companies is often never delivered so after a month or so when drivers discover the truth – they leave. Doesn’t get much simpler then that.

    Another major factor in driver turnover is that inexperienced drivers who have never been in this industry before have NO IDEA what to expect when they get out here. Since most CDL mill training institutions don’t seem to think it is their responsibility to help prepare these inexperienced people for “life on the road” these folks are left to discover that this industry is not for them on their own. They don’t know what questions to ask a prospective employer to keep from being taken advantage of.

    Another major problem for inexperienced drivers is that once they become licensed and possess a CDL – they are held, by the DOT and the FMCSA, as well as the individual states – to the same industry standards as a driver with 20 years experience right out of the box. There is no probationary or grace period for new drivers to learn all that needs to be known to effectively operate within the confines of the rules and regulations that exist. These driver-trainees are not being prepared with enough knowledge and more often then not are hit with violations as a result. Who’s fault is that? Honestly – it’s the entire industry! As the pool of experienced drivers shrinks – the need and demand of these larger carriers doesn’t and since many of these companies lease their equipment they are forced to keep them moving or lose vast amounts of revenue if those trucks sit idle. So the concept of “any butt in the seat” becomes the standard – not the exception and it ends up dumbing down the whole system.

    Inexperienced drivers are paid less and since these larger carries are forced to invest so much money in preparing ill-trained drivers there is less pay for the rest of us.

    There are other things that drives carrier turn-over rates like the attempt by some companies to improve their SAFER scores by dumping problematic drivers and hiring new drivers with clean records. After three years the SAFER scores might improve but with a higher number of inexperienced and undertrained drivers behind the wheel it will just get worse.

    The industry as a whole is a mess and it needs to be cleaned up from the inside out!!! Dumping pointless and ineffective legislation on top of an already complicated set of rules in the attempt to control driver habits is just stupid and useless – in my opinion. The latest round of rule changes for the Hours of Service restrictions reflects that. It’s clear to me the Fed is so out of touch with what is really going on out here it’s almost laughable.

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