According to TCA-commissioned research by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, it costs truckload carriers an average of $8,234 to replace a truck driver. A survey by Highway Bound magazine reported that truck drivers lose more than $100,000 in potential earnings over a 30-year career in moving from carrier to carrier.
The UGPTI research recognizes that there are numerous factors contributing to a driver's overall satisfaction with his job. Some examples include wages, fringe benefits, time at home, treatment by the company, quality of the routes driven, the carrier's home base, opportunities for advancement, type of equipment, amount of responsibility, etc.
The study focused on the driver's perception of the job and a hypothetical career path. The driver would begin in the first stage by focusing on the skills and working knowledge necessary to become extremely proficient in operating a truck, understanding the needs of the customer, and understanding the culture of the company. The second stage would consist of taking on additional responsibilities such as customer service and sales, driver recruiting and training, safety, and equipment maintenance, management and purchasing. By giving the driver a meaningful career path, the job would be enriched and hopefully improve job satisfaction and, consequently, retention.
Many of the managers surveyed for the UGPTI research did not know that drivers wanted opportunities to be creative and grow on the job. Also, they did not know that drivers desire the chance to get involved in non-driving work. "Management needs to adjust its thinking somewhat," said Brenda Lantz, one of the survey's authors.
The Highway Bound survey found that the average driver will lose not only wages, but medical coverage, 401(k) potential, paid vacation, and miles due to lack of seniority, adding up to an excess of 5 cents lost on every mile driven, or over $100,000 over a 30-year career. The study found that an average driver will change jobs eight times during a 30-year career, will be unemployed four months throughout his career because of job changes, will have 21 months without medical coverage and 84 months of non-eligibility for 401(k) participation.