The latest Trucking Activity Report compiled by the American Trucking Association ATA) indicates that the annualized turnover rate at large truckload fleets rose two percentage points to 99% in the second quarter this year – a sign that truck drivers continue to be in short supply, noted ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement.
“Continued high turnover shows that the market for qualified, experienced drivers remains extremely tight,” he said. “The continued improvement in the freight economy, coupled with regulatory challenges from the changing hours-of-service rule and CSA will only serve to put a further squeeze on the market for drivers.”
Costello added that the increase in turnover at large fleets pushed the rate to its highest point since the third quarter of 2012 and just above the annual rate of 98% in 2012.
Turnover at truckload fleets with less than $30 million in annual revenue remained unchanged at 82% while turnover at less-than-truckload fleets plummeted nine percentage points to 6%, ATA said -- the lowest level in two years.
“A tight market for drivers will push costs higher for fleets as they work to recruit or retain quality drivers,” Costello pointed out.
Other industry experts indicate it may take some time for the bulk of the trucking industry to successfully address the driver shortage issue.
“The renewed focus on driver schools is not succeeding in alleviating the overall driver shortage – at least not yet,” noted John Larkin, managing directorof the Stifel Transportation & Logistics Research group within Wall Street firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co. “In terms of the driver recruiting issue, carriers with resources are doing OK, but it’s the ones below that top and all the way down that are really hurting for drivers.”
He added in a recent research brief that current and future federal regulations such as CSA, hours of service (HOS) reform, electronic logging devices (ELDs), speed limiters, national drug and alcohol database, toughened medical examiner standards, new drug testing methodologies, sleep apnea testing, etc., are likely to create an even more challenging driver recruitment and retention environment.
“Virtually all of the proposed federal rules and regulations either reduce the size of the driver pool or reduce the productivity of the drivers remaining in the pool,” he explained. As a result, “drivers remain a scarce input.”