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ATRI Ranks its Top 10 Concerns About the Trucking Industry

Date: 17.10.2014 / to news list

For a second consecutive year, changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules ranked as the No. 1 concern for the trucking industry, according to the latest American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) survey, which was released at last week’s ATA Management Conference & Exhibition.

The hours of service issue has been on the Top 10 list since 2005 and its ranking has been closely tied to the impacts of federal rulemaking, regulation change, rule vacating and new rulemaking.

The rules that govern commercial driver HOS have been in flux since the first survey in 2005 and continued concern over changes to the rules and their resulting impact on industry operations have kept HOS in the top five issues every year since.

In the list of Top 10 concerns, the driver shortage came in second. “I really was surprised that the hours of service rules eclipsed the driver shortage,” said Rebecca Brewster, ATRI’s president and chief operations officer.

With the exception of 2009 – when overall freight demand was down as a result of the Great Recession and truck fleets were reducing capacity both in terms of trucks and drivers — the driver shortage has also been a top five industry concern since 2005. The issue continues to generate significant industry press coverage as fleets and their customers continue to experience a capacity crisis due to the shortage of qualified drivers.

And, the outlook for the future isn’t all that bright. The ATA projects that the industry could face a delta of almost 240,000 drivers between driver supply and demand by the year 2022 if the trend does not reverse. No doubt the driver shortage will continue to be a top industry issue for the foreseeable future.

Third on the list was the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. The CSA program came in last year at the No. 2 spot. Among industry concerns were the inverse relationship between percentile scores in several Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and carrier crash risk, as well as the impact of disparate state enforcement priorities on motor carrier safety performance.

Though FMCSA has attempted to address some of the industry’s concerns with CSA, a number of critical challenges still persist and as such, CSA ranked third overall as a top industry concern this year .

Driver retention jumped up three places from seventh to fourth on the list. It reemerged as a Top 10 industry issue in 2012, after dropping off the list in 2009 during the Great Recession. With the focused attention on the growing driver shortage, retaining the industry’s best drivers has increased as a priority.

The final rule on the electronic log mandate rounded out the Top 5 concerns. The emergence of the mandate as industry concern coincided with the passage of MAP-21 two years ago, which included a requirement that FMCSA issue a final rule on ELD use for HOS tracking.

In March of this year, FMCSA issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) to address a number of concerns identified by industry stakeholders in the first ELD proposed rule, but the industry continues to await FMCSA’s issuance of the ELD Final Rule.

Others included truck parking at No. 6; infrastructure, congestion and funding at No. 7; driver health and wellness at No. 8; and the economy taking 9th place. Driver distraction — which ranked as the 10th highest issue of concern — appeared on the list for the first time this year.

The study was commissioned by the American Trucking Associations, which will use it to focus its advocacy efforts. ATRI said its efforts to expand the reach of the survey and improve the survey respondent experience resulted in 1,144 responses, representing industry stakeholders from both the U.S. and Canada and included motor carriers, commercial drivers, and suppliers.

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