Gary Petty CEO and president of NPTC discusses the state of the trucking industry during the Fleet Advantage Changes in Attitude Conference in Fort Lauderdale FL

Gary Petty, CEO and president of NPTC, discusses the state of the trucking industry during the Fleet Advantage Changes in Attitude Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Driver retention greater among private fleets

NPTC discusses state of trucking during Fleet Advantage Conference

FORT LAUDERDALE. Driver turnover and retention continue to be the top challenges for fleets across the country. Within private fleets, however, the problem doesn’t seem as bleak.

Tom Moore, senior vice president of the National Private Truck Council (NPTC), told attendees at last week’s Fleet Advantage Changes in Attitudes Fleet Safety and Technology Conference that private fleets have only a 14% driver turnover rate. Compare that to the 100% annualized turnover rate at large truckload carriers – according to 2015 third quarter data from ATA.

Industry-wide, not only are fleets dealing with an aging driver workforce – potentially leading to more workers’ compensation issues – Moore explained, but 70% of drivers are leaving due to disciplinary problems. “To me, that number shouldn’t even be on the table,” he said. “We’re hiring our own problem.”

One of the biggest mistakes fleets make happen during the initial hiring process. According to Moore, the typical driver should be treated as a representative of the company, considering drivers see and interact with customers most frequently. During hiring, Moore suggests thoroughly analyzing how the driver looks, acts and will work with people out in the real world.

Private fleets seem to be gaining ground and becoming more progressive, which could help with driver retention. According to Moore, 95% of NPTC’s members are using some sort of onboarding technology to breakdown and decipher data, and more are starting to spec safety technology to help enhance efficiency and productivity. Private fleets are also becoming more specialized in the equipment they’re using, plus they’re getting better at selling their services, he added.

“If it’s not safe, it’s not going to be efficient,” Moore explained. “You’ve got to be safe. Most private fleets operate with the mentality that you’re one accident away from going out of business.”

Because of that, he noted, CSA scores are three times better among private fleets.

Gary Petty, CEO and president of NPTC, explained that there are 10 million CDL drivers listed in the U.S., but only an estimated 3.4 million are active drivers. Private fleets represent 46% of the trucking industry, and capacity within private fleets is growing 5-10% annually, he added.

According to the federal database, there are more than 1.3 million U.S. DOT carriers – 97% of which operate with 20 or fewer trucks. Petty added that the top 10 carriers represent less than 3% of market share. Freight volume has increased for all of the trucking industry and is expected to rise 3.3% in 2015 and 4.3% in 2016, he said.

Upcoming government regulations – the ELD mandate, GHG Phase II, CSA scores, and driver management practices –are meant to excise what Petty called “the bottom dwellers” out of the industry.

“The trends show good news for private fleets,” Petty said. “Private fleets will continue to attract the best drivers. Professionally trained in-house management teams are essential. Along with their expertise, supplier/vendor partnerships will continue to be the keys to success for private fleets.”

Moore agreed, adding that when it comes to the ELD mandate and the driver shortage, the rule will have a net gain for the best drivers and fleet operations.

“I think drivers inherently want to please people,” he said. “[The ELD mandate] gives drivers and the dispatch community the intelligence and the ability to say ‘We can’t dispatch that.’ I think a driver wants to operate as legally as possible, and they don’t want people cheating them out of that.”

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