Driver Turnover, Pay and recruitment

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I read with interestcomments in a recent Truck News article covering the Truckload Carriers Association Panel on Driver Retention and Turnover. (March 12th article “Compensation is key to reducing turnover”.) It was summarized in the article that the message of the panel was if you want to reduce your driver turnover pay them adequately and on time. While this is no doubt true, the fact that a panel has to point this out, would indicate adequate pay and being paid on time is an issue in the industry. To me, this is a sad state of affairs. We wonder why we have a driver shortage and turnover issue…wow. It was further commented that pay scales need to be more predictable and reliable. To this point I 100% agree. The highest turnover rate in our Industry, by far, is in long haul over the road. It is quite common for the turnover rate to hover around 100% in the long-haul sector…that is staggering when you think about, recruiting is constant as you are always trying to stop the churn. There are a couple of reasons for this, in my view.

In this sector drivers are generally paid by the mile, which means their pay is heavily reliant on the carrier being able to obtain enough freight to keep them rolling and bringing in money. Freight dries up, so does the drivers pay. This leads to drivers not always having a reliable paycheck, and during slow times, can lead to a lot of added stress to the driver and his/her Family. The second largest factor is the lifestyle, with not as many people wanting to be on the road for days or weeks at a time, and if they are going to be, they want to be paid, justifiably, a premium for it. Before I go on, I want to be clear that not all over the road long haul carriers fall in this high turnover rate. There are many for hire carriers out there who have turnover rates well below the industry average, as a result of the way they pay, treat and reward their drivers.

Unfortunately, there is still to large a segment that do not follow their lead, and spoil the view of the industry to others, including the current and future drivers we are trying to recruit and retain. Guaranteed or more predictable pay is something the trucking industry needs to come around to. If we ever want any hope of competing with other trades, it’s time we wake up to this fact. The time to talk about it is over, the time to make changes and act is here, and has been for awhile. We keep acknowledging our problems and saying what we need to do…but not enough are doing it. One sector that historically has not had trouble finding quality drivers is the Private Fleets, however recently our carriers are having trouble filling spots as well. If you are a driver looking for a good place to work, I would encourage you to reach out to some private fleets.

Why? I am going to list some stats that were procured from our 2018 Private Fleet Benchmarking report. According to those surveyed, 70% of Private Fleet Drivers are home every night, with a further 13% only being out overnight once a week. The average starting wage was slightly over $60,000.00, with the max pay averaging out to $80k. Almost 80% of these fleets offer pension plans, while 100% have dental and medical coverage. A further 72% offer incentive pay, which can increase the drivers base pay. 100% of Private Fleets surveyed offered Driver Wellness programs that included Mental Health and Grief counselling, while over 50% also had weight management, exercise programs and nutritional counselling. Many Private Fleets also offer hourly pay based wages, making pay more predictable. You don’t require a degree in mathematics to figure out what your pay will be!! Not surprisingly, the turnover rate of Private Fleets surveyed is under 12%. 70% of this turnover is a result of retirement, so controllable turnover is even lower.

Private Fleets are also willing to hire younger drivers more than before, with minimum age recruitments averaging to 21 years of age. If you are a driver looking for more home time with predictable pay rates and other benefits, I encourage you to go to our website at and check out our job board. Many Private fleets are hiring across the country, with quality postings on our site. Postings are also there for mechanics, service writers and safety professionals as well. Take a look, you may find just what you are looking for!

Mike grew up on a beef farm in rural Southwestern Ontario in Huron County and began his career in the Trucking Industry in 1990 at the age of 18. Mike spent three years working for a local carrier Hauling Livestock and bulk agriculture products. At the age of 21 Mike went to work for a long Haul Refrigerated and general freight carrier and spent 5 years hauling freight in all 48 US Mainland States and 6 Canadian Provinces. The Carrier then opened a Certified Driver Training School in 1998 and Mike came off the road to become one of the Schools First Certified Driver Trainers. In 2000 Mike Transitioned into Safety and Compliance for the Fleet, while still working part time as a Trainer for the School. In 2002 Mike moved over to a Private Fleet and became the Safety, Compliance, Maintenance and Training manager for the Hensall District Co-operative’s Commercial Trucking Fleet. Mike spent the next 12.5 years with Hensall and oversaw the Fleets as it grew from 40 Trucks in 2002 to over 160 in 2015. In January of 2015 Mike moved into the Trucking Association business and was named the President of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, where he remains in his current role.