Reduce Driver Turnover to Increase Safety

May 13, 2022

Loss Control, Commercial Transportation


By Chris Parker

A study contracted by the FMCSA suggests a significant relationship between job change rate and crash involvement — that driver turnover may indicate the likelihood of a future crash.

Drivers of all ages who are continuously employed are 75% less likely to be involved in a future FMCSA-reportable crash or receive a violation compared to drivers that left the carrier. [1]

Furthermore, drivers that left a carrier without a recent crash were significantly less likely to be involved in an FMCSA-reportable injury crash compared to drivers that left the carrier following a recent crash.1

With turnover in some trucking industry segments as high as 85% to 90%[2], driver retention is among the toughest industry challenges.

Although highway safety comes down to situations and driver actions on the road, trucking companies can play an essential role in providing drivers with the physical and psychological tools they need to deal safely with adverse situations that arise. Increasing driver safety will ultimately help companies retain safe drivers.

3 ways fleet carriers can increase their driver retention

Understanding the relationship between retention and safety can help contribute to reduced driver turnover. Here are three steps carriers can take to retain drivers and ultimately increase safety.

  1. Establish preemptive programs.

Retention should go hand-in-hand with the hiring process. Drivers want to work for companies that will keep them safe and won’t skimp on doing so. Let job candidates know your commitment to safety training and education, vehicle maintenance and remedial training for drivers involved in crashes.

As you seek employees, focus on drivers who also have high standards. Hire employees who:

  • pay close attention to detail
  • have knowledge of current technology
  • are committed to quality, safety and security.

Then, meet qualified candidates with an equally robust compensation package. Show them that your company values open lines of communication and a culture of feedback. Trucking companies that prioritize safety through management practices and technologies improve driver performance outcomes.

  1. Create outcome-based programs.

Employees want to be recognized and appreciated. Benefits and rewards tied to driver behavior can increase with employee retention.

Offer a reward tied to safety to increase driver motivation — and decrease the number of negative incidents. Talk with your drivers to determine which rewards will incentivize them most, and schedule rewards so they see immediate benefits.

Formal programs may include safety recognition dinners and exclusive “million mile” clubs. More informal programs include driver meetings that highlight new company safety data or recognize an individual driver’s efforts.

  1. Provide personal support programs.

Everyone wants to be seen for who they are. Initiatives should focus on the driver as an individual for the highest employee satisfaction. Your goal with any support program is to offer immediate support and response to drivers’ issues and concerns.

Examples include trucking companies with targeted driver outreach programs that pair drivers with trainers, managers, ombudsmen and even counselors.

Or consider health- and wellness-based programs that can address drivers’ needs for access to clean and safe places to rest or for nutritious food while on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long-haul drivers are twice as likely to be considered obese as other U.S. workers.[3] That increases risks for sleep apnea, heart disease and diabetes, among other illnesses. Truckers also have higher rates of high blood pressure and are twice as likely as other workers to smoke.

Health- and wellness-based programs have the triple outcome of keeping drivers healthy, preventing absenteeism and helping employees feel more positive about themselves, their employer and their daily tasks.

Driver Turnover

Fit Your Culture

Every motor carrier has its own culture and its own needs. Fleet owners and safety directors may need to consider programs that will work best for their company. IAT Loss Control can help you assess your programs and work with you to enhance their effectiveness.

For more information on hiring and retaining drivers, download the eBook, “5 Ways to Hire Better and Retain Better.”


[1] National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence “Examining the Relationship Between CMV Driver Retention and Safety,” August 2020.

2 National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence “Examining the Relationship Between CMV Driver Retention and Safety,” August 2020.