For the second year in a row, the driver shortage is the top-ranked issue among fleets surveyed by the American Transportation Research Institute, a not-for-profit research institute affiliated with the American Trucking Associations. ATRI unveiled its Top Industry Issues report during ATA's annual Management Conference and Exhibition in Austin, Texas.
The need to recruit qualified truck drivers is not a new issue for the industry. In fact, the driver shortage has been a top-three issue in 12 out of the 14 years that ATRI has conducted this survey. However, the driver shortage has held firm as the number one issue as strong freight demand and an aging workforce increase pressure on motor carriers to recruit and retain the best talent.
The complete report on the annual survey, which generated more than 1,500 responses from motor carriers and commercial drivers, also includes prioritized strategies for addressing each issue.
The number two issue in this year's survey is the hours-of-service rules, driven in large part by the industry's call for increased flexibility in the rules, particularly the sleeper berth provision. Reflecting the industry's challenges in recruiting and retaining professional drivers, this year's number three issue is driver retention, up two spots from last year.
Industry concern over the electronic logging device mandate has abated some since the final rule went into effect last December, as evidenced by a drop in ranking from the number two issue in 2017 to the number four issue this year. The lack of available truck parking rounds out this year's top five but remains as the number two issue among commercial drivers.
"I've spent the past year traveling the country as ATA chairman, and everywhere I go, people talk about how we've got to resolve our workforce challenges if we're going to keep this nation's economy moving forward," said Dave Manning, TCW Inc. president. "ATRI's annual analysis lays out the industry's preferred strategies for not only addressing our workforce issues, but HOS, truck parking, and congestion as well."
The 10 most critical issues facing trucking today, according to ARTI's 2018 survey, are:
1. Driver Shortage
2. Hours of Service Rules
3. Driver Retention
4. Electronic Logging Devices
5. Truck Parking
6. Compliance, Safety and Accountability
7. Distracted Drivers
8. Transportation Infrastructure
9. Driver Health and Wellness
10. The Economy
You can see the entire ATRI survey results on their website.