Driver turnover: Eye of the storm

With the ongoing recession holding down freight volumes, it's no surprise that fleets are cutting employment levels and that in turn is checking driver turnover rates. That's giving motor carriers welcome if temporary relief from the high price of driver turnover, which includes recruitment, training and retention costs. The latest figures reported by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) indicate driver

With the ongoing recession holding down freight volumes, it's no surprise that fleets are cutting employment levels and that in turn is checking driver turnover rates.

That's giving motor carriers welcome if temporary relief from the high price of driver turnover, which includes recruitment, training and retention costs.

The latest figures reported by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) indicate driver turnover rates for the fourth quarter of ‘08 fell to the lowest level since the trucking lobby started tracking that data in 1995. By the way, the highest churn rate for truckload drivers was recorded in that year's fourth quarter: 136%.

The rate for large truckload carriers (annual revenue of at least $30 million) dropped from 65% to 61% for the last three months of 2008, while the rate for smaller truckload fleets fell from 58% to 55%.

Driver churn was also down for less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, which traditionally enjoy turnover rates that are minuscule compared to what truckload fleets experience. While 8% of LTL drivers changed jobs in the third quarter of ‘08, only 5% did so in the fourth quarter.

According to ATA, a 100% turnover rate shows that drivers, on average, are switching jobs once a year, while a 61% rate means they are moving down the road about every 20 months.

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