It comes as no surprise, that for the fifth year in a row, the driver shortage ranked number one in the list of industry concerns, followed closely by driver retention. As supply chain constraints dominate the headlines, even the average consumer is familiar with the issue and likely feels the impact.


With decades of experience in the commercial transportation industry, Napa River understands the complexity involved in not only hiring good drivers but keeping them. To that end, we have built our comprehensive Driver1st® program, based on extensive industry research into the driver shortage to create a new way to think about your organization, transforming it into one that:

  • Is proactive and preventative rather than reactionary.
  • Uses demographics, support systems and technology/advances to identify, attract and retain successful drivers.
  • Better connects your drivers with the whole organization.

We believe that when these goals become standards of practice throughout the organization, drivers will find a “home” with you, despite a career that all too often is transitory by nature.


We are committed to working with you each step of the way as you elevate your organization. To fully understand the issue of driver retention, however, we first need to take a deeper look at the timeline that informs both past and current driver shortages, as this context helps shape our future solutions.

Changing Landscapes

In 1980, the Motor Carrier Act was signed into law deregulating the commercial transportation industry. With fewer limitations and more opportunities, deregulation sparked an increase in demand for drivers and resulted in a rapidly changing landscape for those within the industry.

Moving forward to the 2008 recession and subsequent recovery — many people found truck driving as a second career, spiking both the total number of drivers as well as turnover. Demand for capacity and drivers continued to skyrocket during this time. We witnessed a similar scenario in 2020, and today the commercial auto industry faces a need for drivers unlike ever before. Many companies seek both trainees and experienced drivers, offering many attractive perks (like incentives and signing bonuses). As a result, it is incredibly easy for drivers to leave their current organizations and find a place in a new one. However, some of these deals are not as they appear. Average driver turnover is 100% and can be as high as 300% (meaning that 1-3 people are hired for a single position per year). With the high average cost to hire a driver and the fact that new drivers are much more likely to be involved in an accident, this is less than ideal. Customer service can also suffer from high driver turnover.


So, other than the evident ease in changing jobs and endless promises for “better” opportunity, what causes drivers to leave?

High Pressure + High Stakes = Higher Likelihood of Losing Your Driver

When it comes to company-related reasons that cause drivers to depart, a single incident is most likely the catalyst (versus long-term, chronic unhappiness). Drivers face difficult situations every day, but a single moment can make or break their experience with a company.

Every Driver Needs a Home

Finding “home” in the workplace can be an especially elusive concept for a person who may feel undervalued. At Napa River, we think it’s not only possible but necessary for a driver to feel safe, valued and respected enough to stay with their company for the long haul.


Successful transportation organizations have built a culture that recognizes the driver as its most valuable asset. They involve all personnel in the support of the driver. This, in essence, is what Driver1st does. Here’s how we do it:

Before Hiring a Driver:

Consider your organization and safety cultures. Have you created an environment and support system that drivers want to come home to? Research finds that owners who commit to robust and sustained safety and driver support programs usually have better safety and retention performance, leading to higher driver satisfaction.

Ask questions. Once a prospective hire is in sight, the company may look at certain factors that could make a driver’s experience significantly better from the start. Asking simple questions can have a profound impact and better prepare drivers for life on the road.

After a Driver Departs:

Consider what works AND what doesnt. Napa River knows that better hiring practices lead to improved retention, satisfaction and safety. We analyze past driver input along with demographic data to create a model of the “perfect fit”: a driver that matches the company, and vice versa. Additionally, if a former driver was successful with the company, there could be the potential opportunity to rehire the driver in the future.


Let’s say your organization is ready to partner with Napa River and utilize the Driver1st program. What happens next?

How We Can Help You Keep Your Drivers

Driver1st creates a roadmap for success, translating our findings into a personalized action plan and program setup. We facilitate hands-on training complete with ongoing communication and mentoring offered at all levels, including truckers and their families.

We evaluate your company. We begin by evaluating operations with meaningful metrics: where they’re going, what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, etc. We also collect data about former drivers, including contributing factors to dissatisfaction. When the evaluation is complete, the findings are then communicated to management.

We create and introduce a tailored program. Together, we create a tailored Driver1st program that will lead to increased driver hiring and retention, and then introduce it directly to staff through a series of comprehensive seminars. Progress and activities are closely monitored, and ongoing coaching to support personnel, drivers and their families is offered. This continuous mentoring and support structure development ensures that drivers feel heard and valued by the organization


Napa River understands the concerns facing your industry. We know that higher truck driver turnover results in higher rates of accidents and customer dissatisfaction, and that supporting your frontline personnel will ultimately lead to greater success for everyone. Working towards a measurable goal of fewer claims for your organization is not only possible, but on the horizon, and Driver1st will help get you there. Contact us to find out more about how we can help your organization Move Forward Fearlessly.


Dedicated and available team members are ready to help you.

Jeff Davis

Vice President of Safety

Email Jeff

Tony Hoff

Senior Loss Control Representative

Email Tony

Sue Shields


Email Sue