The Truck Driver Shortage Isn't Going Away

In reporting turnover rates for the first quarter of the year, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) suggests that the softer economy with a lesser need to move cargo was a likely contributing factor in the decline of 1.8% of the number of drivers for large truckload carriers from the beginning of the quarter to the end. The turnover rate for those fleets climbed 6% for the quarter, to 127% which the ATA points out is the highest rate since the fourth quarter of 2005, which had a 136% turnover rate.

Smaller truckload carriers had a turnover rate of 102%, which was down from the previous quarter's 112%. At the same time, these truckers hired 3.5% more drivers than in the fourth quarter of 2006. To compare, for the entire year of 2006, large truckload fleets had a turnover rate of 117%, according to ATA, and the rate for smaller carriers was 109%. LTL carriers had a modest increase in the number of drivers, however the turnover rate for their line haul drivers rose to 14% for the quarter.

Bob Costello, chief economist for ATA, pointed to the average length of haul climbing 11% during 2006—compared to a 2% increase for larger fleets—as a reason for increased turnover for smaller truckload carriers then. With many carriers turning their focus to more regional routes, they are able to offer drivers shorter hauls which means they will be home more often.

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