The American Trucking Association provides updated reports when truck driver turnover increases, stating that it’s a good sign for the industry. The most commonly cited reason is increased freight volumes and stricter regulations such as the CSA, resulting in a need for more qualified drivers.
In an industry where driver turnover averages well over 100%, the latest numbers for the fourth quarter show a drop to 88%, which is explained by the fact that the economy is still trying to recover. However, this percentage is expected to increase as volume and regulatory changes occur.
The ATA and carriers believe that higher driver turnover is a good thing. This shows a greater increase in freight volume and proves to FMCSA and bureaucrats in Washington that more regulations are needed, such as NAFTA, to make up for the lack of qualified drivers in the United States. The national media, which has no idea about the real world of trucking, believes all this rhetoric and publishes it as serious trucking news.
The turnover rate of professional drivers, especially in long-haul trucking, is also considered demonstrable, as there is evidence that drivers leave employment with one trucking company in search of a better position with another. The media is told that drivers are looking for another carrier with better pay, better mileage, more time at home, etc., creating a driver shortage problem, which in turn leads to a problematic driver retention rate. For drivers, this turnover is often referred to as “churn” and “job changes.” The problem, however, is that most large carriers operate the same way and the grass is rarely greener on the other side.
For the cross-border trucking initiative to come to fruition and for U.S. trucking companies to apply for foreign labor certification, they first had to prove that there were not enough qualified U.S. truck drivers available who were willing to do the work at the prevailing wage. Carriers easily achieved this goal by paying low wages, using students and new drivers as a source of cheap labor, having drivers sit around unpaid waiting for freight, and wasting driving time by having drivers sit unpaid for hours on shippers’ and receivers’ docks. Click Here for more Details
As drivers churned, the industry could point to the loss of drivers as confirmation of a driver shortage, and when the CSA went into effect, that regulation could be used as evidence of low driver retention, as many experienced drivers left the industry for good; not really because of the CSA, but because of the carrier actions mentioned above. All it took was for the major trucking organization to announce to the media that the U.S. was now facing a driver shortage and retention crisis.
Trucking news outlets, whether published or online, are always ready to spread critical industry news about a crisis. The problem is that many of these media outlets are controlled by the very organizations that are doing the talking. The media, on a national level, run the stories without any real expertise in the inner workings of OTR trucking. They are listening to the wrong messengers.
OTR has become so real to so many people that major news sources continue to respond to what they believe is a real, driver-caused problem. Promotional articles are written to find a real solution to the driver retention problem. One article states:
“Turnover includes both voluntary and involuntary departures, but the problem is primarily voluntary departures.” It’s important to know what causes drivers to switch jobs and then determine how the trucking industry can stop this tremendous waste of effort and money.” (Source: Business Library – Driver Retention Solutions)