Is the Trucking Industry in Trouble?
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released its annual survey of the top 10 critical issues facing the trucking industry. For the third year in a row, the driver shortage and driver retention held firmly atop the list of industry concerns among respondents, followed closely by the hours-of-service (HOS) rules as the second most critical industry issue. Below is a summary of the top issues from the ATRI’s report.
- Driver shortage—According to the latest estimates from the American Trucking Association, there are over 60,000 commercial drivers needed in the United States with a potential shortfall of over 100,000 drivers over the next five years.
- HOS rules—Motor carriers and drivers alike are seeking increased flexibility when it comes to HOS rules. The FMCSA has issued a proposed rulemaking to make changes to the 30-minute rest break, and add flexibility in the sleeper berth provision that would allow drivers to split their off-duty time into an 8- and 2-hour, or 7- and 3-hour split, with neither period counting against the 14-hour driving window.
- Driver compensation—While drivers are benefiting from increased pay, there is concern that driver compensation has not kept pace with inflation and that drivers are not compensated adequately for non-driving duties such as detention wait times.
- Driver detention—Delays at customers’ facilities can negatively affect a driver’s ability to comply with the HOS rules and their earnings. Delays can also erode a motor carrier’s profitability.
- Truck parking—A lack of available truck parking creates a dilemma for drivers who are often forced to drive beyond allowable HOS rules or park in undesignated or unsafe locations.
- 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.