Driver Shortage Tops ATRI List of Critical Trucking Issues

The American Transportation Research Institute released its report “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry” this week, which identified the top concerns and challenges along with strategies for each according to 1,557 motor carriers, drivers, and stakeholders in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  Results from the report were as follows:               

Issue #1:  It comes as no surprise that driver shortage is the number one issue that the trucking industry is experiencing.  According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry is experiencing a shortage of nearly 48,000 drivers with these numbers possibly reaching a high of 175,000 by the year 2025.

Strategies:  Survey participants agreed that the best strategy for combatting the driver shortage is for “state and federal authorities to develop a graduated CDL program to attract safe younger drivers to the industry,” indicating that a quarter of truckers are 55 years or older and in their retirement years. (1)  Other strategies included working with the US Department of Labor to formalize a national recruitment program as well as the Department of Transportation and Department of Defense “to equalize and streamline licensing requirements between DOT and DOD.” (1)

Issue #2:  The ELD Mandate, with a compliance date of Dec. 2017, was ranked number two as experts indicated concerns with safety, harassment, and cost (which can reach as high as $1500 per unit, no doubt wreaking havoc on owner-operators and small carriers, not to mention a 3-5% productivity loss according to research).

Strategies:  The top three ways of approaching this issue included researching and determining the impact the mandate will have on safety and productivity (a strategy suggested by 50.8% of respondents), determining how the ELD data should and should not be used so as to combat driver harassment, and keeping the ELD implementation date in tact rather than extending it. (1)

Issue #3:  Critical issue number three is the industry’s hours-of-service rule, mainly due to its flexibility and uncertainty with the restart provision.

Strategies:  Experts agree that flexibility tactics need to take place, which would allow drivers to adjust their schedules to sleep when tired and help minimize congestion during peak hours, further research and determination of detention on safety and the economy, as well as analyzing how automated technology would affect such. (1)

Issue #4:  The lack of available truck parking in safe locations is concern enough to place it at number 4 on ATRI’s list, further enhanced by the need for a driver to choose a parking location close by, even if dangerous, in order to avoid breaking HOS rules.

Strategies:  The top three suggestions for tackling this problem is the creation of additional truck parking facilities, education on safety consequences if new locations are closed or not created, and having a “real-time” information system available that allows truckers to both reserve spots as well as see how many are available. (1)

Issue #5:  The ability to retain drivers, especially with the above regulations and challenges, is an issue in itself, earning the number 5 spot.

Strategies:  Most would find the strategies provided as unsurprising.  These included researching the impact incentives and retention programs have on safety and productivity as well as the online creation of retention strategies. (1)

Rounding off the top ten critical issues in the industry were CSA, trucking regulations and their economic impacts, driver distraction, congestion/infrastructure, and driver health/wellness.

To request a copy of the report click here.