The driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets rose to an annualized rate of 75 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the American Trucking Associations said.
That’s a 6 percentage point increase over the fourth quarter of 2010, and a 92 percent leap from an annualized rate of 39 percent in the third quarter.
The rapid increase in driver turnover — the rate at which drivers leave a company within a year — comes as competition for experienced truckers intensifies.
“The driver market is tightening,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “We hear nearly every day from fleets who cannot find enough drivers to meet demand.”
As driver pay and benefits increase, truckers tend to jump from carrier to carrier. In addition, carriers tend to focus recruitment efforts on experienced drivers.
The turnover rate increased most at large truckload carriers. Smaller truckload fleets saw their turnover rate rise 1 percentage point to 50 percent, the ATA said.
That is still the highest turnover rate for small truckload carriers since 2008.
Less-than-truckload carriers have a much lower turnover rate. Few LTL drivers spend more than a day or two on the road and they can earn higher pay.
The LTL turnover rate rose 2 percentage points from 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 8 percent in the first quarter. LTL carriers are also hunting drivers.
The availability of drivers effectively limits available capacity at truckload and LTL carriers, regardless of how many vehicles or terminals doors they have.