It seems like longer than a year and a half since the Coronavirus pandemic began, and its effects on the nationwide economy and supply chain continue to send aftershocks across multiple industries, including trucking. But even though the global pandemic has changed the lives and livelihoods of millions, it’s only part of the problem when it comes to the biggest issues that are affecting the trucking industry. The ATRI has come out with their list the most critical issues facing the trucking industry.. Here are a few of the top 10 and what we do at Rocky Mountain Trucking to stay ahead of the game and keep our drivers and clients in the very best position to take advantage of this busy time.
Also known as CSA, this is also not a new issue to this list, but this is the first time that CSA has been back in the Top 5 since 2015. The FMCSA has continually made improvements to CSA system in its 10-year history, but carriers continue to report issues with data quality, peer group assignments, and Crash Preventability Program challenges.
The proposed solution with the highest number of votes on this issue:
“Work with FMCSA to update its carrier prioritization methodology, improve its accuracy, and enhance transparency, as it moves to implement the Item Response Theory methodology into the current SMS. The September 2019 U.S. DOT Inspector General (IG) audit of FMCSA’s CSA Corrective Action Plan found that the plan lacked “implementation details for improving transparency and its assessment of carrier safety rankings.” Collaboration with FMCSA to round out those details and successfully implement the National Academies of Sciences recommendations for improving CSA was the preferred strategy by 37.3 percent of respondents.
This is the fourth time in a row that the industry’s driver shortage has been voted the top overall concern. With freight demand now returning to pre-pandemic numbers, the industry continues to struggle with the numbers of drivers who left the industry due to retirement, the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, COVID-related concerns, and other reasons.
“Advocate for Congress and federal agencies to develop an apprenticeship program to attract, train and retain safe 18-20-year-old interstate drivers to the industry. Faced with an aging workforce where over a fourth of the driver population (27.4%) is 55 or older,4 fleets are looking to identify a younger cohort of drivers to fill seats. To increase the available pool of qualified candidates, 52.6 percent of respondents believe that opening interstate driving positions to 18-20-year-olds is the best strategy to address the shortage. The DRIVE-Safe Act – which is viewed by many in the industry as a clear pathway to safely integrate 18-20-year-old drivers into a trucking career – provides a framework for an apprenticeship program including hours of training, technology use, and performance benchmarks.”
This issue made its debut in this survey’s inaugural year and has now made its way back to the Top Ten 16 years later as the number five biggest issue. The ATRI found that insurance costs per mile increased 18.3% over the last five years, affecting many smaller fleets and causing even more to go out of business.
“Quantify the impact of rising insurance costs on industry operations, safety investments, and driver training. ATRI’s recent study on the impact of nuclear verdicts on the trucking industry documented some of the impacts of rising insurance costs, including reduced resources for driver training. Additionally, ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee identified this topic – Impacts of Rising Insurance Costs on Industry Operational Costs – as a top research priority for 2020; a strategy that 50.9 percent of survey respondents selected as their top choice.”
This issue made the Top 10 for a second year in a row but dropped several spots to number 9 due to the increased attention and urgency of other issues that hit the industry during 2020. The impacts of increased detentions and delays at customer facilities are multiple and directly impact hours of service, compensation, and parking.
“Identify best practices, technologies, and strategies that reduce or eliminate driver detention at shipper/receiver facilities. ATRI’s 2019 Driver Detention study found that drivers and carriers attributed excessive detention to a number of factors including dock employee issues, product readiness, lack of dock space, overbooking, and lack of technology solutions, among others. A plurality of respondents (40.4%) believe that the best solution for reducing detention is to synthesize and promote the best practices and mitigating strategies that address top detention causes.”