Large TL driver turnover down 11% in 2Q, ATA says

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The line-haul driver turnover rate among large for-hire truckload carriers — fleets with at least $30 million in annual revenue — experienced its first quarterly decrease in a year during the 2007 second quarter, the American Trucking Associations reported Tuesday, Sept. 18. Driver turnover is for employee, over-the-road, line-haul drivers only and does not include local drivers such as for port operations.

ATA, which began collecting driver turnover statistics in 1995, reported that turnover for large TL carriers was at a 116 percent annual rate during the quarter, down from a rate of 127 percent in the first quarter of the year. “Soft freight volumes and looser capacity during the quarter likely helped lower the rate of turnover,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, the rate still remains high and hasn’t been below 100 percent since the fourth quarter of 2002.”

Small TL carriers — fleets with less than $30 million in annual revenue — saw their average turnover rate decrease to 90 percent, marking the lowest annualized rate in 2 years; this is the first time that the small fleet turnover rate has been below 100 percent since the third quarter of 2005. The less-than-truckload (LTL) line-haul driver annualized turnover rate was just 13 percent during the 2007 second quarter, compared with 14 percent in the previous three-month period.

Both large TL and LTL fleets experienced reductions in total employment during the second quarter of this year, a trend that started during the fourth quarter of 2006 for the TL sector and in the first quarter of 2007 for the LTL industry. As freight has softened, both large TL and LTL carriers have tried to “right-size” their operations, ATA says. The small TL carriers had essentially no change in total employment during the quarter, but they did increase their line-haul driver pool by 1.4 percent.