Critical Issues Give the Trucking Industry New Challenges

The Arlington, Virginia-based American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) determined four major issues affecting the trucking industry in 2019.  These concerns include 1. vehicle parking, 2. the safety of young truck drivers, 3. truck safety tech ROI and 4. the impact of litigation that is successful against trucking companies.

Some of these issues, ATRI found, can be segmented into smaller fragments and still represent quite relevant and poignant problems within the industry.  Here are some of the most pressing according to the organization:

Creating a viable parking information systems standard - Assessing the preferences of truck drivers to develop a method of standards and formats for parking data.

Revamping distance based metrics of safety - The current safety metrics agreed upon by most truckers are based in an era that did not have e-commerce and other trends that changed drive time and safety concerns.  There may possibly be new metrics that are better suited to determine appropriate safety performance other than the rate per million miles metric that is currently the industry standard.

Researching the intrastate driving records of younger truckers - Defining "younger" as drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 years of age, there is a definite need to assess the safety performance of this set of trucking processionals.  The comparison in the study is based on the performance of younger drivers in intrastate travels versus the performance of more experienced commercial drivers who are driving intrastate.

Updating truck safety tech ROI - ATRI conducted the original truck safety technology analysis for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  Because of the number of updated safety technologies that are available today as opposed to the time of the original study, the cost/benefit analysis should be updated.

Understanding the way that litigation affects the industry - So called "nuclear" verdicts, or verdicts with very high payouts to litigants against the trucking industry, do have longer term effects than just the verdict.  There are also more widespread effects outside of the single company that lost the case.  ATRI recommends quantifying the trends that are associated with these out of court settlements and awards from juries.  ATRI notes that these awards are growing as time goes on, and many important cases have not been properly documented.

Updating the analysis on tolls - ATRI conducted a seminal analysis on infrastructure reinvestment.  However, due to recent changes and updates in the trucking industry, ATRI recommends updating this study to focus more on tolls.  Among other things, the new analysis should consider a comparison of how tolls are reinvested in administration versus the roads themselves and whether toll formulas are equitable for all vehicle types.

ATRI began collecting information for the Truck Parking Information Systems research report from March 28th in Louisville, KY.  This initial research was in the form of a driver's survey, which took place at the Mid-America Trucking Show.  ATRI then expanded its efforts throughout the United States at many other relevant industry events.