- Averitt Express is upping driver compensation for regional hauls, according a press release Tuesday.
- Newly hired regional drivers now start at 50 cents per mile, and pay increases to 52 cents per mile after one year with a hazmat endorsement. Regional flatbed drivers now start at 52 cents per mile, and that increases to 54 cents after one year with a hazmat endorsement.
- Marten Transport, which operates a fleet of more than 3,300 tractors, spent $17.7 million on additional company driver pay in 2020, according to a 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday.
Averitt said its pay raises are part of its 50th anniversary celebration. But fleets across the industry have been offering more competitive compensation, as pandemic-driven volumes and slowed training pipelines contribute to the driver shortage.
Last September, U.S. Xpress projected the industry could lose 200,000 drivers in 2020 and that firms might hike driver wages by up to 15%, in response.
In a 10-K filed Tuesday, U.S. Xpress said it experiences "substantial difficulty in attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of qualified drivers," including contractors, and that it increased driver pay to address the shortage. U.S. Xpress also said its turnover rate is higher than the industry average and that of its peers.
"If we are unable to continue to attract and retain a sufficient number of drivers, we could be forced to, among other things, continue to adjust our compensation packages or operate with fewer tractors and face difficulty meeting shipper demands, either of which could materially adversely affect our growth and profitability," the company said in the filing.
This is a risk many carriers are familiar with. Darren Hawkins, CEO of Yellow (formerly YRC), said on the company's earnings call last month the shortage was hampering its plan to become profitable. To attract and retain drivers, it added signing bonuses and accelerated pay progressions in certain markets.
Marten Transport mentioned in its annual report that the pool of available independent contractor drivers "is smaller than it has been historically," which makes recruitment more difficult. And if those difficulties persist, "we could be required to continue adjusting our driver compensation package or let trucks sit idle," the company said.
Driver recruitment and retention efforts go beyond compensation. Amenities are an important consideration, too.
When National Carriers learned drivers wanted more parking and hot showers at its Liberal, Kansas, facility, it spent $5 million to do so. The facility also has a lounge, coffeemakers, TVs and wireless internet. That attention to feedback, and favorable pay, keep the firm's turnover relatively low.
Averitt touted its benefits package and amenities. The company provides "modern" trucks with safety technology, convenient parking, and on-site fueling and maintenance at more than 100 locations. Drivers also have access to one-on-one specialists at driver support centers, which have washers and dryers, showers, Wi-Fi and workout areas.