The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) reported today that the driver-turnover rate at “large truckload carriers increased by a mere one percentage point to 92% (annualized rate) in this year’s first quarter and held above 90% for the ninth consecutive quarter.

Meanwhile, ATA said turnover at “small” truckload fleets dropped one percentage point in Q1 to 78%. That marks the second- lowest rate during the past year. In 2005 and 2006, turnover averaged 96% and 109%, respectively, for this group of carriers.

Turnover for the less-than-truckload (LTL) sector also slipped one percentage point to land at just 10% in Q1. That’s the lowest mark hit since Q2 of 2013.

According to ATA chief economist Bob Costello, even with turnover at the large carriers standing “well above” the low of 39% recorded four years ago, the rate is “far from the worst” trucking has experienced.

“While high, turnover at large truckload carriers is lower than other years when the driver shortage was as acute,” Costello said.

Making his case, he pointed out that:

  • In 2005, turnover averaged 130%
  • In 2006, in “another year with a tight driver market, turnover averaged 117% for this group of carriers”

Costello pointed out that poor weather during Q1 “could have kept a lid on turnover and it could still rise as improved economic growth and healthier freight volumes put more pressure on the driver market and the driver shortage.”

According to Costello, the industry now has “in the range of 30,000 to 35,000 unfilled truck driver jobs.”

He added that “as the industry starts to haul more because demand goes up, we’ll need to add more drivers– nearly 100,000 annually over the next decade– in order to keep pace.”