Driver turnover at private fleets jumped this year to nearly 23%, a record spike, according to the National Private Truck Council’s annual benchmarking survey of 104 private fleets across the U.S.
Despite a year marked by capacity constraints in many areas, including equipment and component shortages, driver shortages and rising diesel fuel prices, private fleets reported growth. In 2022, the private fleets surveyed in NPTC’s 2022 Benchmarking Survey increased shipments by about 10% from last year and increased volume by about 7%. The value of shipments also rose by 11.5%.
While the nature of private fleets (which rarely handle peak demand or volume levels) offers some degree of protection from economic, market and social pressures, NPTC officials wrote in the survey report, driver issues were a top challenge for most fleets.
Driver Turnover at Private Fleets in 2022
The average turnover for the past 10 years is about 14.5%. In 2021, turnover was about 16%. But this year, the average jumped beyond expectations to nearly 22.5%, eclipsing the 20% barrier for the first time in the survey’s history.
“The pandemic sent shockwaves through [drivers’] finances and through their jobs. I think there were a lot of people that didn’t want to risk changing jobs. They wanted to protect what they had,” said NPTC Executive Vice President Tom Moore during a virtual press conference presenting the report findings. “In year one of the pandemic we saw a lot of pent-up demand and turnover that dropped down a year or two,” he added. “All of a sudden all that pent up demand went searching for money and a better opportunity.”
2023 Predictions for Driver Turnover at Private Fleets
NPTC expects driver turnover at private fleets to return to the 16 to 17% range as pent up demand subsides.
“I think private fleets are doing a better job of understanding the kind of drivers that they're bringing on, and I think that by making that kind of investment in the hiring process we'll see likely a return to more normal turnover figures,” Moore predicts.
Private Fleet Truck Driver Compensation
Meanwhile, the average driver compensation for private fleet truck drivers is at an all time high: $79,907. This is up 5% from 2021.
“About two-thirds of our members are changing [compensation packages] on an annual basis, no big surprise there,” Moore said. “But interestingly enough, another 26% are changing it more frequently than annually or as need.”
About 57% of private fleets are also using sign-on bonuses as a way to attract drivers.
Learn more about how fleets are rethinking driver pay.
The Aging Driver Population Problem in Private Fleets
In 2022, the average driver age remains at more than 50 years old for the ninth year in a row. This year coming in at an all-time high of 51.6 years of age, the oldest driving population in the history of the survey.
“This average age continues to surprise given the number of older drivers who exited the industry via retirement cited elsewhere in this report,” NPTC officials wrote.
What Does the Aging Driver Population Mean for Fleets?
The increase in average driver age has implications in terms of safety and worker’s compensation issues, explained Ellen Ingram, director of human resources at private fleet America’s Service Line, during an NPTC virtual press conference.
With an aging population, fleets need to take more consideration to consider leave of absence policies and other work comp events (such as age-related ailments), Ingram said.
The goal is to understand how to retain the aging driver population during critical events in drivers lives through compensation.
How during these critical events in drivers lives — in order to retain them — do we come compensate them with disability programs and such, she said.
“The age of that population has implications throughout the business and ultimately retention of individuals,” she said.