Longevity in Trucking

When I was told that the December issue of Over the Road was celebrating a milestone date – it is 30 years old this month, it got me thinking about longevity. Congratulations to OTR. 30 years, publishing 12 times a year, is quite an accomplishment. I am aware that this represents 360 magazine closing dates, 360 different covers and working with hundreds of different trucking companies over this time span. Well done, Peter, Mary, Cathryn, Luke, and all of the Over the Road team.

Your success got me thinking about drivers and how this relates to how long a driver stays with a carrier. We know that turnover among truck drivers is very high. Turnover occurs for several very good and bad reasons. Sometimes a truck driver’s miles drop because of a lost contract or an economic recession. If the miles drop and the earnings for the driver dip as well, this driver may be looking for a new place to hang their hat.

There are many other reasons for the truck driver turnover crisis. Some are fixable and some are just part of the job. One issue that is inherent with the job is a routinely long trip – for example, Ontario to California. A driver with this run is on the road and away from home for several days a week or month. After some drivers get enough over the road experience, they may look for a new job without as many lonely sleeps on the road.

But there are other situations that are controllable. For example, dispatchers are human, and sometimes a dispatcher may be having a bad day. Their unpleasant mood may have nothing to do with the truck driver that they are currently conversing with, but the truck driver may get the brunt of a dispatcher having a bad day and then the driver feels very much disrespected. A disrespected driver is often considering leaving for ‘greener pastures’.

What does longevity and history of employment have to do with a driver recruiting magazine that is 30 years young? In my mind, it has a lot to do with safety. A Forbes Magazine article from August of this year outlines the cost of truck driver turnover. The first cost that they note is the cost of recruiting and driver orientation. They say this number ranges from $6000-12,000 per new hire. And what is very interesting to me, as a safety guy, is that Forbes goes on to show how newly acquired drivers have more crashes. More collisions can lead to higher trucking insurance premiums for the carrier. And remember, a crash might show up on your personal Motor Vehicle Record and cause your personal car insurance rates to go up.

All of this to say, that driver turnover costs a lot. For the trucking company, keeping your drivers and reducing your churn rate can save tons of money.

And for you driver, isn’t having fewer collisions a money saver? Certainly, you will have less stress if you have fewer or zero crashes. Another benefit of staying with your carrier may be that you know the system, the work, and the dispatchers. Changing companies is stressful. You don’t know the routes and destinations. You don’t know the best places to stop. You don’t know the people that you are working with and for.

I am just trying to say, that maybe, just maybe, staying where you are and not quitting and changing jobs, might be best for you, your family, and the company that you are already at. Again, thanks to Over the Road Magazine for bringing my driver safety messages to Canadian drivers all these many years.

Safe Driving and Happy Holidays

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.