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Retaining Driver Talent Is No Magic Trick

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According to the American Trucking Associations (ATS), driver turnover is up slightly, at least for large truckload carriers. Over the course of a year, 97% of these drivers will quit and need to be replaced. Less-than-truckload carriers have much lower turnover, at roughly 13%, but their rates have also gone up. Only small truckload fleets have not seen an increase, and their turnover rates are typically very high, around 94%. This is not the first time in recent history that turnover has risen, and rates are still not as high as those seen a decade ago, but a company that has to hire and train almost its entire workforce every year is in trouble.

For trucking companies, keeping talented drivers in the vehicles has to be a top priority. One way to do that is to expand recruiting efforts into non-traditional pools of potential applicants, such as women. Some carriers are doing just that. But if nine out of ten of those recruits will be gone in a year, clearly changing hiring practices is not enough.

The most obvious way to improve retention is to increase pay and benefits, and larger companies that have the resources are doing so, but money itself is not always the most important factor. Drivers also care about having some sense of control and ownership of their professional lives. They want to be treated fairly.

Safety analytics can give drivers more of what they want by giving fleet managers a more nuanced picture of who is doing what. Traditionally, most drivers were paid based on number of miles covered, a system that rewarded both speeding and continuing to drive while exhausted. Essentially, people were being penalized for taking care of their bodies and following the law, a frustrating system at best. Alternative possibilities, such as hourly pay or paying by the load, also did not allow driver pay to reflect driver skill.

Safety analytics software, on the other hand, can track which drivers speed, stop abruptly, or otherwise engage in risky or inefficient driving, making it possible to identify and reward the best drivers. That gives employees a fairer work situation and more direct control over their take-home pay.

The software also reduces the potential for accidents and moving violations and increases efficiency in both time and fuel use—thus saving the company a great deal of money. At least some of that money can go towards raising driver pay. Not having to rehire and retrain everybody every year will then save even more money, some of which can also be directed back towards drivers.

It’s a positive feedback loop of the best kind.


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