A new list released by the American Transportation Research Institute–the trucking industry’s non-profit research institute–shows the biggest issues currently facing the trucking industry in North America.
The “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry” list for 2019 has been compiled by the ATRI after analyzing over 2000 survey responses from motor carriers and commercial truck drivers. In its 15th year, the ATRI Top Industry Issues report also incorporates strategies that can address and potentially help to solve each issue.
In the list, driver pay and detention times at customer facilities made up 2 of the top 10 biggest concerns–for the first time ever.
However, Hours of Service has held the number two spot for two years in a row, and Driver Shortage concerns have stayed at the very top of the list for the last three years.
“While 2018 was an incredible year for trucking, we’ve seen some challenges in 2019, and certainly finding and retaining qualified drivers remains at the top of the list for our industry,” said ATA chairman and president, Barry Pottle. “ATRI’s analysis reveals the interconnectedness of these top issues and provides a roadmap for how motor carriers and professional drivers believe we should move forward as an industry.”
Here are the 2019 rankings for the most critical worries in the North American trucking industry:
10. Economy — Many factors have truckers concerned lately about how the American economy is affecting trucking, including a trade war with China, drone strikes on Saudi Arabian oil companies, and a softer freight market.
9. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding — “Poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion create wear and tear on vehicles, waste fuel and increase emissions, create additional stress for drivers, and negatively impact industry productivity,” the ATRI says.
8. Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) — Although still a major concern, CSA worries have fallen from the number 6 spot in 2018. This may be in part to the integration of new driver technology, such as collision mitigation, avoidance systems, and driver-facing cameras.
7. The Electronic Logging Device Mandate — December 16th is the deadline for fleets to transition from AOBRD devices to FMCSA-approved ELDs. The logging technology was the number one critical concern only three years ago, and has been steadily sliding down in the rankings.
6. Driver Retention — This problem has dropped from number three on last year’s list as a softer freight market in 2019 has lead to less truck driver turnover.
5. Truck Parking — A long-term problem in the industry, this issue “creates a dangerous and costly dilemma for truck drivers who are often forced to drive beyond allowable Hours of Service rules or park in undesignated, and, in many cases, unsafe locations,” the ATRI says.
4. Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities — A brand-new addition to the ATRI’s top ten critical issues list, the ATRI references a study showing that driver detention of six or more hours has increased by over 27 percent between 2014 and 2018.
3. Driver Compensation — Another first-time-in-history addition, as driver pay has never been considered a top critical concern. This problem represents two sides to the complex issue–the carriers who must raise their driver pay, and drivers who are not satisfied with what they earn. Fleets have been increasing their drivers’ pay significantly, but many drivers still say their income is no longer keeping up with inflation, according to the ATRI.
2. Hours of Service — HOS regulations have remained in the second spot of these rankings for the last two years. In 2019, the FMCSA has put into place an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which aims to provide greater flexibility in its rest break and split sleeper berth provision requirements. This regulation also extends duty time by two hours for drivers working in inclement weather, and lengthens the maximum on-duty driving period from 12 to 14 hours.
1. Driver Shortage — This issue has stayed at the top of ATRI’s rankings for three years in a row. Although many groups (like OOIDA) believe driver shortage is actually a driver retention and compensation issue, the ATRI explains that “despite a somewhat softer freight market in 2019 over 2018, demand for qualified drivers is still high and fleets are undertaking a number of approaches to mitigate the recruiting challenges.”