Top 10 Reasons Drivers Leave

We spend a lot of time trying to attract drivers - but it may be even more important to pay attention to why drivers walk out the door.

January 2008, - Cover Story

by Deborah Lockridge, Editor-in-Chief - Also by this author

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'I always hear that a driver will walk across the street for 2 cents more a mile, but that's not what we've found," says Rim Yurkus, CEO and co-founder of Strategic Programs Inc., a turnover consulting firm in Denver.

When drivers leave your company, it is most likely not because another company has enticed them out from under your nose. Instead, something triggers them to leave. And it's not always the big things. Instead, it's likely to be a succession of small things, until one day a driver has simply had enough.

"These people keep score," Yurkus says. "It's like an old-fashioned scale, where bad days pile up on one side, good days on the other. At some point, the number of bad days gets high enough to tip the scale."

Strategic Programs' exit interview process is designed to get past the superficial or easy answers drivers give for leaving. "If you have a casual or not-well-thought-out (exit interview) process, you can ask why and he may tell you because the new company paid 2 cents more per mile," Yurkus explains. "That many not be a lie, but it's rarely the whole truth.

"If you turn back the camera a month or two, something else happened - maybe a driver manager broke his promise about getting him home for his kid's birthday, and while he was nursing that negative attitude, he started looking around for other reasons to quit."

The following list of reasons drivers leave is based loosely on Strategic Programs' database of 22,000 truck driver interviews.

1 - I don't make enough money.

As you probably would expect, money issues, including rates and getting enough miles, are the top reason drivers leave. Complaints about not getting enough miles have risen in the past year as the economy and freight have softened.

"It's important we offer competitive rates in a tight industry," says Rob Newell, vice president of recruiting and retention for Greatwide Logistics. "We've got to remain competitive to attract labor from other markets and attract people into the profession."

Schneider National, for instance, last fall announced what it says is one of the largest driver pay increases in the company's history, with the potential for drivers to earn up to $4,500 more per year.

There are also ways to address the compensation issue other than the per-mile rate. At Greatwide Logistics, for instance, they've been testing a technology solution they're calling GreatMatch. This system makes recommendations to the company's owner-operators on optimizing their income based on hours of service regulations and historical information on various types of loads.

But you might be surprised to learn that the majority of drivers actually leave for non-money-related issues.

"Even when money is the biggest reason, it rarely accounts for more than 20 percent of the people who left," Yurkus says. Issues such as time at home and the relationship the driver has with his supervisor loom large.

"I think pay tends to be the easy answer," says Jim DePillo, 20-year trucking veteran and co-author with Stan Poduch of the book "True Stories of Driver Turnover: Translating the Driver's Perspective."

"The truth is, if there's a pattern of people not responding well to him within the organization, eventually the frustration's going to build and lead to him deciding to leave," DePillo says.

2 - I'm not satisfied with my home time.

This one won't surprise anyone, but it is a more complex issue than simply "not enough home time." Strategic Programs found that some drivers complained that time at home was too infrequent, but others focused on the unpredictability of time at home - or that when they did get home, they didn't get to stay long enough.

Part of satisfying drivers in this area starts in the recruiting process. "If they live in Montana, and your lanes are between Detroit and Laredo, it's not going to happen," said then-president and COO of Celadon, Tom Glaser, during a recruiting and retention conference last year. "Pay attention to your hiring area and where you drive your trucks up and down the road. Hiring area and freight density play an important part in getting those drivers home."

The unpredictability of home time is the main reason drivers leave Maverick, says Darius Cooper, vice president of operations. "While we try to get every driver home for a minimum of 34 hours each weekend, it is still unpredictable. In 2006, 97 percent of our drivers were home every weekend, but in 2007 we have only been able to maintain a 95 percent home average." In many cases, he notes, being home on a more consistent basis is much more important to the family than having a $50,000 per year income.

That's the thinking behind an unusual program at Schneider called Home Run. A group of three drivers are assigned to two trucks. Each driver works two weeks on, one week off. They'll be home 17 weeks out of the year, and know which weeks those are going to be. Schneider also is expanding a program that allows drivers to schedule their home time in advance using an online calendar. Other changes in Schneider's dispatch system mean nearly two-thirds of the company's drivers get home daily or weekly.

3 - I don't like my supervisor.

'People don't leave companies; people leave people," says Greatwide's Newell. For drivers, the supervisor is their dispatcher or fleet manager, their primary point of contact with the company. By the very nature of the job, this relationship is fraught with potential for problems.

"When you look at the behavioral profile of a driver and a driver manager, they're opposed," explained Tom Witt, then-senior vice president of operations at Smithway Motor Xpress, during a recruiting and retention conference last year. "Driver managers are extroverted, work in a fast-paced environment, and work well without structure or guidance. Drivers are very patient. They spend a lot of time in the truck by themselves, they don't receive criticism well, and they need a lot of structure in their environment. What seems to be the disconnect is the way the message is delivered from the driver manager to the driver. The driver's not going to receive very well a dictatorial directive without explanation as to why."

Of course, there are many different personalities both behind the wheel and in the dispatch department. A driver who has friction with one dispatcher might get along great with a different one. There are companies that offer employee profiling services to help better match drivers to dispatchers. But all dispatchers/fleet managers need to have the right knowledge, tools and attitude to deal with drivers.

"Beyond issues like pay and home time, it's all about relationships," Newell says. That's why Greatwide is developing what it calls a Driver Relationship Management Initiative, focused on training fleet managers (what Greatwide is calling driver support leaders). They also are developing technology that will make the dispatching chores less time-intensive and give the driver managers more time to interact with the drivers.

"It's about knowing them by name - they're not a truck and a trailer, they're a person," Newell says. "They're a father, a mother, a brother, a son, and we need to get to know them. We need to congratulate them on a company achievement or if their son won the Little League championship game. That's what relationships are all about." The training encompasses topics such as interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, anger management and learning about what the driver faces in his daily life out on the road.

Joplin, Mo.-based CFI uses fleet manager evaluations, where drivers are asked to evaluate their supervisors and offer suggestion for improvement. "It helps the fleet manager see things from the drivers' perspective, and perhaps alter how they approach implementation of new concepts," says President and CEO Herb Schmidt.

One common complaint Strategic Programs hears from drivers is that their driver manager does not value their ideas and suggestions. Drivers want to feel like part of the company, and having their ideas taken seriously by their dispatcher can go a long way toward that feeling.

While drivers may cite conflicts with their supervisor as a prime reason for leaving, don't forget the importance of other people the driver comes in contact with, as well, DePillo says - payroll, safety and compliance, mechanics and so forth. "There are a variety of interaction points within an organization, and every conversation that anyone has is an opportunity to retain or to lose the driver," he says.

4 - I'm not happy with the way I'm dispatched.

Beyond the relationship with the dispatcher, there are many opportunities for dissatisfaction with the dispatching and scheduling itself.

One common complaint is unpaid wait time at the customer. "If the sales department doesn't get involved with the customers to get the truck unloaded faster, that's a problem," says Glaser. "The salespeople have to be involved with this process."

At Dart, says Joyce Jordan, COO of the Dallas Operating Center, "We are able to look at the average loading and unloading time by shipper and consignee, and have made a concerted effort to have our salespeople talk to the customers and consignees individually to try to resolve the problem. If a driver is delayed, we will pay him or her for waiting time after a certain limit."

Other complaints include being stranded far from home without a load, bad directions on how to get to a shipper or consignee, bad information on where to pick up a trailer, having to drive in New York City, and so forth. Some of these issues can be addressed with computer technology that helps dispatch drivers more effectively and can provide turn-by-turn directions right in the cab.


  1. 1. Douglas Priest [ September 11, 2014 @ 01:53PM ]

    I left Greatwide for the same reason as stated above. I've been driving for 20 years and I have never had such a horrible experience I could sit here and rattle off numerous personal reasons as to why this was such a horrible experience but I don't want to continue to waste my time with Greatwide. If you are a driver looking for consistent freight and a good relationship with the company you work for, scroll down to the next company because this isn't the one you want. Do your due diligence. Visit blogs and websites before making the decision to join this company.

  2. 2. travis [ November 24, 2014 @ 05:19PM ]

    I agree with most as to why drivers leave. Mo one mentioned insurance. I am leaving my current company because they not cover my hearing surgery. Value the driver I say ha ha. Without surgery I will not be about to pass cdl psyical and so not have job. Employers not see to care. Went almost to president of company but my boss found out and yelled a me for bothering ceo

  3. 3. TERRY D WILSON [ November 05, 2015 @ 09:26AM ]


  4. 4. Eldridge. [ November 10, 2015 @ 07:11PM ]

    I read this whole story and it had some good points and bad points the good points are that the companies that participated in this story recognised how important truck drivers are too the transportation industry and are trying to keep and satisfy the drivers by working together as team and not as a rivalry team the bad points I got out of the story is how some dispatchers and
    management and shop technicians feel about drivers.Ifwe all stop labeling each other jobs ie ..driver vs dispatch or driver vs management or shop technicians stop feeling like a driver is the super destroyer of trucks and put more of the negativity about drivers behind us and focus on how to work as a team you would find a low ratio of driver's quiting.

  5. 5. gerald [ November 18, 2015 @ 10:45AM ]

    I have been driving for 22 years.I have found a good one after 6 employers later. Shaffer was a good one and i would of stayed but i was turned into a regional driver covering loads going into the Chicago area.Driver manager took my home time anywhere area and turned it into either here at the yard or your home.Manager did not care about me seeing my aging mom and dad.
    Now I am working for the 7th.I should be here for 14 years and i am going to retire, smoke pot and throw beer bottles at truckers.

  6. 6. Tom esslinger [ December 13, 2015 @ 10:18AM ]

    I had a commercial license since 1971 I work for several companies and the biggest problem out there is the pay in the nineteen seventies and eighties you can make a decent living driving a truck the biggest problem is cheap price there's not a shortage of drivers but there is a shortage of decent paying freight for driver to make under $100,000 a year as a company driver is ridiculous you must figure how many hours a week that you're on the road this does not necessarily mean driving it means the amount of time that you're not at your home just do the math 24 hours a day 7 days a week you're out three weeks you get two days off a whole two days if you put as many hours in working at McDonalds as you do driving a truck you will make over $50,000 a year if you take one step up and become a janitor and work two jobs 80 hours a week lo and behold you're going to make a lot more than a truck driver makes biggest reason time and a half for overtime trucking companies expect you to run every day every night the only time you can stop is for the 10 hours that they say you have to informatics perience most trucking companies want you to try to fudge the books anyway you can to get extra time that doesn't make you any more money it makes them the money I honestly believe that the fleet managers and dispatchers should work the same amount of time as their truck drivers they staying at office 24 hours a day 7 days a week and they have to sleep in a cot somewhere that's 48 inches wide and then they get to go home for 2 days out of every 3 weeks I also believe the owners of the company which are mostly bean counters at this point should do the same thing if they can't do it why should they expect you to do it a long time ago I went on and bought my own truck my own authority and I will set until I find the right load I can make as much money driving a thousand miles a week as most these drivers do I hear running 3000 or 4000 miles because I wait on the good freight if we got rid of all the cheap freight then everybody can make a fair living and you would see there is no driver shortage

  7. 7. Randy [ March 28, 2016 @ 09:44AM ]

    Seems there is a lot of facts in this article. To bad there are so many outfits running under the radar that dont give to shits for the drivers. Such outfits are being run by the pakis of the west threw to the east and when it comes to maintenance it's same thing. I'm working for the 3 rd hiway outfit in a year and been left to sit for 6 days now. Was supposed to have return load but once delivered office apologized for there mess up n said sit. When advised that annual inspection was due for Traillers it was told that no way there only 14 months old and stickers don't mean expiry date they mean when was last done. I've been running comercial trucks for 31 years and just the last 2 years doing freight for foreigners who monopolize n lie there way threw our bleeding heart system. Scales don't want to deal with them cause first thing they do is whine racial discrimination or that they can't speak English. The trucking industry needs to have a place to report these kinda people made public and not only the pakis but any outfit that jeperdises the safety of others and tries to manipulate the safety regulations.

  8. 8. Rey [ June 08, 2016 @ 02:35PM ]

    I quit because of dispatchers being disrepectful, not appreciating favors I did for them, rude communications, the way i was dispatched. It all comes down to money respect and effective communication.

  9. 9. Furious Ghost [ July 31, 2016 @ 10:04AM ]

    Today in 2016, there should be no trucker making less than .50 cents a mile. Truckers are still making the same pay 20 years ago. The cost of living has gone up. They getting an apartment on a $34,000 a year salary. Do not forget all your other bills.

  10. 10. Furious Ghost [ July 31, 2016 @ 10:16AM ]

    Today in 2016, there should be no trucker making less than .50 cents a mile .Truckers are still making the same .31,34,40,45 cents a mile, in which Truckers made the same pay scale 20 years ago.The cost of living has gone up. Try getting an apartment on a $34,000 salary.Do not forget all other bills that are due. If you make good pay, you will be able to have home time.Low pay means more time on the road.

  11. 11. Vixien srisongkham [ November 07, 2016 @ 06:48AM ]

    This is so true all company should read this article I left 6 company within 15 month trying to fine the right company for home time I don't mind the pay but all of us driver need a day or 3 for home time to relax our mind from idiot driver that is why so many company has low CSA scores and turn over rate. Me as a driver I use the Smith system but if a company tell me I need to hurry and drive the Smith system is gone. We need to take break instead of running on our recaps. We are tired after 70 hours of driving. We don't like going to new York. No parking after 12pm. Bad driver out there. If I can fine a company that can pass dot requirements safety and home time I'm sticking with the company for long term.

  12. 12. zman151 [ November 20, 2016 @ 07:12PM ]

    WOW! Nice dialog. I'm 72 years old, my wife and kids are gone. I want to make/save money. I hauled specialty loads all over the U.S. in the early 2000's. I feel like, "If I drive 700 miles a day, rest for eight hours, repeat... I can do that. Am I in La La Land? I don't care about home time. If I get home (wherever that is), then I get home. OK, my experience is outdated but can still do the job. Any thoughts Drivers?

  13. 13. Clay [ December 05, 2016 @ 08:55AM ]

    It's funny how the writer's of articles leave the truth out. This writer has absolutely no idea what it's like to be in a cab 2-4 weeks at a time. In this writer's world, a lie is forgotten, and that lie often means nothing. Out here on the road, a lie from a dispatcher mean sitting in a cab the size of a walk-in closet for two days. Now if that isn't going to lead to animosity toward a dispatcher then you might want to go see a psychologist and find out why your anger buttons aren't working. Once a dispatcher lies, he can never be trusted again.
    And yeah, we are going to get mad if you promise to get us home for Christmas or a kids birthday but do not deliver, just as you would hate your terminal manager if he told you to come in on Christmas morning and sit in the closet at your terminal. Don't worry, you can listen to the radio while you're in that closet. And be patient, we'll let you out of the closet on December 27th.
    After 17 years of driving a truck I believe only about 50% of what a dispatcher tells me. I've also learned to tell them no, and mean it. When it's minus 20 and the wind is gusting 80mph on Interstate 80 in Wyoming, no means no.
    In a nutshell I've learned the only way to make good money is to stay out.

  14. 14. rod man [ January 01, 2017 @ 10:59AM ]

    One reason I left my last firm was detention was paid at $13 per hour after 2 hrs.. Right next to me was a O/O leased to my firm, getting $45 per hour detention. Same load, same destination. I was limited to 5 hours of pay, he was unlimited. Trucking company owners continue the same attitude of when they started 20 years ago. Kids don't walk 2 miles to school in the snow anymore - drivers cant live on 40 cents per mile

  15. 15. Emily [ January 09, 2017 @ 01:35PM ]

    My husband switched to the trucking profession about a year ago, and I'm doing everything I can to discourage others from doing the same.

    It's probably fine if you are single or prefer solitude.. but if you're married with kids? No way.

    The money isn't worth it, especially after you consider how much it costs to eat at truck stops or what a hassle it is to cook and do dishes in your truck. Wifi is a joke too so don't think you'll be watching Netflix or playing Call of Duty in your cab either.

    It's too hard on your kids, too hard on your marriage - and the companies that recruit you have your balls in a vice because if you quit or get fired, you have to find a way to get you and your stuff home - and you may be a couple thousand miles away.

    You spend as much time waiting for loads, waiting to be loaded/unloaded and dealing with checkpoints, weigh stations and inspections than you actually spend driving - which is the only time you are getting paid.

    When you calculate 42k by actual hours worked, you're really getting paid about $12-13/hr

    They lie to you and call you a hero... when all you are is a sucker while your kids are begging Daddy not to leave again.

    Don't do it!

  16. 16. Paxton [ January 29, 2017 @ 03:35PM ]

    First: If you're driving for a publicly owned company { listed on one of the stock exchanges }, you need to realize who really runs the company: the stockholders. They tell the President, VP's, managers, and everyone else what is the most important thing: give them the best possible return on their investment. Investors don't care if the drivers are happy, sad, healthy, sick, or anything else. They only care if the company is A} making money and B} if it is making more money than last year. A turnover rate of 50%, 100%, or even 200% is fine as long as they get a 'good' return on their investment. If the people in management want to keep their jobs, they have to keep the investors happy, not the drivers.
    I totally agree that professional drivers should be paid and treated much better but as long as companies can continue to fill seats even with 100% turnover rates, it isn't going to happen. Only when trucks are sitting idle, freight is not moving, and store shelves are empty will driver pay, treatment, and respect rise to where it should be.
    If drivers, as a whole, are dissatisfied, unload your gear at home, return the truck to the terminal, stop the broken system, and don't come back.
    As long as the freight continues to move which means the investors get the return on their investment that they want, nothing will change.

  17. 17. Jeffrey Kellerman [ February 24, 2017 @ 03:20AM ]

    I drive local deliveries in the Chicagoland area in a straight truck for a container company and we're treated pretty much the same.

  18. 18. Jay [ June 22, 2017 @ 12:32AM ]

    I don't understand. Why don't you just get an hourly truck driving job. Not getting paid for wait time sucks.

  19. 19. Nate [ August 02, 2017 @ 07:34PM ]

    Paxton, I agree with you 100%, I've been saying the same thing for years. Money makes the world go round. Stock market at all time high but wages still stagnant, go figure.

  20. 20. Stephani [ October 07, 2017 @ 12:18AM ]

    I've been a driver for about a year now my and I don't like it. I don't have a plan b for right now because I can't afford to finish college. What I dislike are 1, class c drivers. You don't realize how bad people drive until you're up high. 2, is dispatch. They don't give a flying fuck about you all they care about is this freight ht. I'm a local driver and we have to work 21-14 hour shifts for the most part. But today I picked up a trailer from a shipper and all 4 breaks are cracked and there is a hole in the air line to the trailer. My dispatch added two extra hours onto my 14 hour clock for repairs. Who in the hell wants to work 16 hours?!? This is their truck their trailer and freight. I'm making pennies on the dollar and instead of going home I have to stay here until God knows when. I hate this shit and I hate the people in the office. Inconsiderate pieces of dog shit. Fuck them all.. And they'll go home after their shift with no regard about the bs I have to go through. Swift is a horrible company to drive for.

  21. 21. Doris. [ November 14, 2017 @ 10:37AM ]

    I am a recruiter for a trucking company. As a whole- industry standard for turnover is 100 %. As far as "happy" drivers- it's just the same as any other profession. People will be happy and satisfied, people will be unhappy and disappointed. There isn't always room for dissecting it. It comes down to the individual. Sometimes drivers leave to chase a dollar, others leave because of respect levels. Bottom line- the dispatchers, drivers, recruiters, payroll- they all work for someone. No one is doing this for free. Dispatchers don't wake up in the morning thinking "how can I ruin this divers day?". Recruiters don't wake up thinking, 'how can I manipulate someone to work for this company". Dispatchers have a job to do, recruiters have to look at numbers, and drivers have loads. Sometimes freight is low and it takes time. If you stop making it about you or someone else and look at it in the bigger scheme- there is so much going on. Patience and communication will result in less chaos. But people will always play the blame game.

  22. 22. Dustin [ December 16, 2017 @ 10:36AM ]

    Doris: You sound just like the company mascot. I do believe you are a recruiter by the way your talking. Listen people this is how it is. I have been driving for 17 Years. I'm driving for a OTR company right now. I'm out during the week and supposed to be home on the weekends. When I spoke to the recruiter they told me I would go out on Sunday and be home Friday. So fare this has been bullshit. Things got messed up and now I can't seem to get off this cycle. Leaving out on Friday/ Saturday and coming home on Thursday. I love trucking and provide better then most average people doing it. Trucking is a great career and more people should do it. I have hauled some really cool stuff and help get product to all of you people sitting at home. My kids don't see me during the week, but if you think your going to go local and have home time your kidding yourself. I drove local for 5 years before going back over the road. They will work you 14 hours a day and you will barley have enough time to eat and go to sleep before going back to work. Your family will not see you enough doing this either. The trucking industry is full of people that could give two shits about you. We are very under paid and they need to consider this. It is not a driver shortage but a pay shortage. I not paid nearly enough to go out longer then a week and there isn't a chance in hell I would spend 4 weeks out there. A week out is not bad though and the time fly's. You will definitely get more sleep doing this then local. The dispatchers are full of shit and could care less about you and the Recruiters are the worst. They have more bullshit then I could ever explain here and that is because they have numbers to fill. If you know this going in you will be alright. Trucking will provide a nice stable living for your family. I do 70,000 a year.

  23. 23. mf [ December 22, 2017 @ 08:14AM ]

    All of these reasons are applicable and serious concerns. We are a trucking company in Hinton, OK looking for good dedicated drivers from any state. We haul water for oil companies and have trucks that need to be used. Our drivers are ALWAYS home at night, they never drive more than a 1 hour radius from the shop, and there is an on site mechanic, so you will NEVER be left stranded. We are a team and work as one. We are a smaller company but we start pay at $21 an hr with a chance for overtime daily. Our owner cares about our drivers and makes sure they are always set off on the right foot from the start. Weekly safety meetings are correlated with payday, as well as a cookout for our entire team. The biggest complaint I see here is the lack of empathy from owners and CEO's, you will not have to worry about that with this company. Contact me at this email if you are interested or need anymore information.

  24. 24. Terahia [ January 11, 2018 @ 02:18PM ]

    Lack of professional conduct and maintaining boundaries are an issue also. My partner has a dispatcher that refuses to use his work supplied phone. She encroaches into our personal lives and texts about non work related matters.
    She is always changing his loads so he is away from home 4 nights most weeks.
    Tells me that she is the other woman who texts him.....
    So why shouldn't I go slap the tarts face?

  25. 25. Barney @ 2/1/2018 4:20 am [ February 01, 2018 @ 04:21AM ]

    mf @
    Please contact me about driver information in
    Hinton OK for delivering water for oil companies. I'll give you information about myself along with my resume.

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  27. 27. Steve Hughart [ March 11, 2018 @ 04:00PM ]

    Well I have a great job I been out here for 40 years and this job is a truck driver dream job it is a flatbed no tarps no chines I run out of Florida to California back to Florida I get home when I want for as long as I want and I set my Owen ETA and we do run Elog I have been with this company for 2yrs I have NO problems or hiccups over here at all they don't bother me at all I would not want to go anywhere else and I do make decent money. I do average around $1300 a week take home BUT I do run 3000 to 3300 miles a week and every week and I rout my Owen self and as far as my DM he is the best and good benefits for me AND my wife for around $248 a month I love it over here lol I never run over on my Elog this is the best lol

  28. 28. Ayo Ajibade [ March 22, 2018 @ 10:16AM ]

    nice one

  29. 29. Josh [ April 11, 2018 @ 09:16AM ]

    My biggest issue is driver managers tend to treat their drivers like having a family or a home life is not important. I’ve quit my last three company’s because when my driver manager gets mad at me for taking an extra day of hometime because I have been truly sick then that’s enough for me to see how much they care about me. Everytime I have quit a company it is because of my driver manager. They get to go home to their family everyday. We as drivers do not get this luxury and they need to be more sympathetic and understanding of this.

  30. 30. Dave [ April 16, 2018 @ 12:49PM ]

    Constantly forced to break the law so they can profit, and in the end not making much more than you could at home, but you you have to live like an animal on the road, never getting a good nights sleep.

    Good enough reason for you?

    I don't even have my truck driving license anymore, thank god I already had skills from farming etc. and I only had to rent the truck for a few hours to go get my license. I pity the poor fools spending thousands on truck driving schools only to find out they just stepped in a big old cow pie.


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