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7 Reasons Why Truck Drivers Leave?

Truck Driver Shortage

tractor trailer

Roughly 300,000 truck drivers leave every year, according to the Transportation Department. But why, you may be asking? It's not because other companies are hiring CDL drivers to recruit, but there’s something that would make them say, “I’ve had enough.”

In this post, our truck driver recruitment agency highlights the most common reasons truck drivers quit their companies.

1. They’re not satisfied with their pay

Walmart offers driver salaries exceeding $80,000 annually. So if you're still paying your drivers a cost per mile totaling $45,000, it might be time to review your company's pay structure.

While not all companies can afford to pay $80,000, they can consider changing strategies like offering a salary instead of cost per mile. Your truck driver will feel more appreciated even though they'll receive lower pay.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Research in Transportation Economics journal revealed that increasing driver pay by about 6% might make them stay longer and help companies save money to keep them from looking around for a new trucking job.

The study found that the average salary of truckers that stayed was 6% higher ($2,836 more annually) than that of the average salary of truck drivers who quit their job.

This wage difference is less than the average cost of replacing a new truck driver of about $3,600 (a conservative estimate), accounting for expenses such as sign-on bonuses, training, and orientation.

2. They don’t like how they’re treated

One of the reasons truck drivers quit is issues with dispatch, supervisors, and the company in general. Some frontline leaders in a trucking company are not treating them as humans; sometimes, they can be rude and mean to them. That's why they quit.

People leave people. Truck drivers are individuals with first names. They are not assets like gasoline or equipment. They love to be treated as people. They make sacrifices to haul the goods you're delivering to customers.

To address this issue, fleet owners should provide training and education to their supervisors and dispatch on managing (and treating) their truck drivers. They must know how to communicate, listen to feedback and complaints, and resolve issues.

More often than not, there can be conflicts in operation, such as delivery delays. Therefore, when truck drivers communicate and bring any concern about how your frontline leaders are treating them, listen to them and act on the matter accordingly.

Otherwise, one of the fastest ways to get them out the door is not to listen and acknowledge their pain and issues. At least listen to their problem and make them know that those pains are heard, although you don’t need to solve them right away if it’s not possible. Also, tell them why you cannot accommodate such at the moment.

3. They’re feeling unappreciated

Why do truck drivers quit? Another reason that truck drivers leave their trucking company is they feel unappreciated. They don't feel like an equal to their customers, upper management, dispatch, and supervisor.

Create a culture of respect in the workplace and nurture relationships with your drivers. Show appreciation and care for them so they'd feel valued by your organization. Empower your people and encourage them to bring skills and talents. Allow them to be part of your company.

After all, everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. So embrace everyone's differences to make them feel comfortable and appreciated. This kind of mindset will help your fleet thrive.

As remember, CDL truck drivers are the reason that all the people in your company get paid. Appreciate their hard work and their essential roles in keeping America moving.

Appreciation for your drivers should be more than the typical “Driver of the Month.” Still, appreciation boils down to a culture of respect and trust that plays a significant role in retention.

4. They didn’t meet their expectations

In a fact sheet, the Biden administration said that trucking plays a crucial role in this country's supply chain and economy, especially since they were essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering supplies and goods to every corner of America.

In light of this, the White House announced plans to recruit and train a new generation of truck drivers to bolster the trucking industry experiencing a noticeable trucker shortage during the pandemic.

However, new truck drivers can be quickly pushed back out the door within 100 days of working in the company. This can start in the truck driver recruitment process. Many complained their life as a driver wasn't what they expected or that their truck driver recruiter lied to them. As a result, some of them lure drivers into unrealistic claims.

It pays off to work with a credible and reliable trucker recruitment firm. They can ensure setting up the right expectations from the very beginning. They'll sit with the driver to discuss every detail and provide the prospective candidate's complete understanding of the job before moving forward. This addresses any issues that might arise later if the recruit accepts to work in the company hiring CDL drivers.

5. They don’t receive advancement opportunities

There aren’t one or two truck drivers quitting because of a lack of growth opportunities. However, this doesn't mean promoting truck drivers into dispatch in their first month. Instead, it means creating opportunities to reward drivers for making them stay in the company.

Perhaps, it could be in the form of a seniority reward. It could also be transferring senior drivers to a better route or getting them to drive better equipment. Any advancement opportunity can give them the feeling that they are having career progress in your company.

Especially in terms of hiring motivated truck drivers who are always looking for ways to advance their careers; they are eager to learn and improve. So offer them opportunities to grow so that they will stay. For instance, offer to pay for them to earn CDL certifications.

6. They don’t have enough home time

While on the road, truck drivers live out of their trucks, so most trucks have a bed in the back where their drivers sleep. Of course, meals are also eaten on the road. But aside from such a different kind of "lifestyle" that they need to accept and live with, they also want more home time, which depends on certain factors, like the type of trucking job they do.

For instance, if you're working on an over-the-road schedule, typical home time could be once every three weeks. This kind of schedule could pose serious challenges for marriages or relationships.

Why do truck drivers quit? First, CDL drivers seek more reliable home time as they become older and start families. When this happens, many pursue careers that offer more home time.

Not all drivers want to be on the road constantly because they want to return home to spend time with loved ones and have some work-life balance.

Home time in trucking refers to the time a truck driver returns home. Walmart has more than two million employees and is continually looking for truckers who travel more than 900 million miles annually. They're one of the highest-paying truck driving companies in the world, too, and provide two days per week in-home time options.

7. They have health issues

It's not a secret that truck driving is one of the unhealthiest careers in the world. Truck drivers have to drive long hours and do not get exercise, which is one of the reasons for a truck driver shortage.

Based on a national survey published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, over two-thirds, or 69% of truck drivers, were obese, and 17% were morbidly obese.

Obesity, for instance, increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, joint and back pain, cancer, and stroke. Such conditions can disqualify a truck driver from driving.

According to the same survey, over 50% half of long-haul truck drivers were smokers, which was more than twice as compared to the general working population at only 19%. Smoking is another problem that increases one's risk of developing cancer and stroke.

Most drivers also averaged more than six hours of sleep, while 27% averaged six hours or less compared to 30% of working adults.

Companies should promote healthy habits for truck drivers. Provide toaster ovens, microwave, and mini refrigerator in the truck, allowing them to bring home-cooked meals on the road instead of eating at a truck stop, for instance.

Learn more about how to improve truck driver retention in our article here.

Final Thoughts

Why do truck drivers leave companies? They're unsatisfied with their pay, have health issues, don't have enough home time, etc. So, how do you keep truck drivers happy?

There is no solution to this because each individual wants different things from their job, but starting somewhere with consistent schedules and competitive pay and benefit is good. It'll also help to set realistic job expectations from the beginning to lower turnover, and Rig on Wheels can help you with that. And at the end of the day, talk and listen to your drivers so you can create a customized solution for them.

Contact us today! 281-968-3100​​

If you work in the trucking industry and want to share your experience, email me at

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