PHILADELPHIA. The annual survey conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) to rank trucking’s most critical issues found that hours of service (HOS) is again at the top of the list for the third year in a row.
The group said the economy is the only other issue to generate a top ranking for three consecutive years (from 2009 through 2011); a ranking achieved in large part due to the impact of the “Great Recession.”
ATRI added that “significant negative impacts” on the industry from the 34-hour restart provisions first implemented in July 2013 as part of an overall of those regulations are the main sticking point for the industry.
Although the restart provisions were suspended by Congress in December last year, ATRI said “concern over their reinstatement” pending the release of results from a second field study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the main reason why HOS remains a top issue among motor carriers.
In its own research, ATRI said it found that 80% of motor carriers indicated a loss of productivity directly attributable to the now-suspended rules, and driver pay impacts were estimated to range from $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion annually.
The full “top ten” critical issues list released by ATRI includes:
- The Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program
- The driver shortage
- Driver retention
- Truck parking
- Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
- Driver health & wellness
- The economy
- Transportation infrastructure, traffic congestion, and funding
- Driver distraction
“The past year has been one of ongoing uncertainty for the trucking industry,” ATRI said in its report.
“The industry continues to wait for FMCSA to issue the final rule on ELDs and for the agency to address concerns with its CSA program,” the group added. “In addition to looming changes in the regulatory environment, the industry must also deal with internal issues that significantly affect operations. As the workforce ages and retires, the industry continues to struggle with a growing shortage of drivers and a scarcity of qualified new entrants to fill their positions. Directly related, high driver turnover rates resulting from industry churning and competition from other industries continues to exacerbate workforce issues.”
ATRI noted that its 2015 survey generated 1,388 complete responses, a 21% increase over last year’s poll, which included respondents from U.S. and Canada as well as both motor carriers and commercial drivers.