LAS VEGAS. The biggest issue on the annual “top ten” list of trucking industry issues compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is the impending electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.
Yet regulatory issues also placed second and third, noted Rebecca Brewster, ATRI’s president and COO, during a press event here at the American Trucking Associations (ATA) annual conference – especially as they are increasing the collective economic “pain” being felt by motor carriers.
“From ELDs to hours of service (HOS) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rules, regulations are hitting the industry right in the wallet,” she said.
The looming date for the mandatory implementation of ELDs – which is Dec. 1 of 2017 – topped the list of trucking industry concerns this year, with more than 65% of respondents concerned about productivity impacts truckers may experience when ELDs are fully deployed.
However, Derek Leathers, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises and an ATRI board member, noted during the press briefing that such “productivity losses” due to ELDs – which he thinks will run between 3% and 5% – will only be “short term” for roughly a year, with the mandatory use of ELDs delivering a “positive outcome” that will outweigh any short term issues.
“Having everyone all on the same rules will allow us to do a ‘deeper dive’ on hours of service long term,” he explained.
That’s key as HOS ranked number two on ATRI’s list this year due to ongoing uncertainty of a final HOS rule. Ranking third is the “cumulative economic impacts of trucking regulations,” which Brewster said is new to the annual list and reflects the industry's collective frustration with increasing and often costly regulatory requirements.
The full “top ten” list is as follows:
- The ELD mandate
- HOS rules
- The cumulative economic impacts of trucking regulations
- Truck parking
- The U.S. economy: “At the end of the day, sub-2% GDP [gross domestic product] growth is nothing to get excited about,” said Leathers.
- The Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program
- The driver shortage
- Driver retention issues
- Transportation infrastructure, traffic congestion and funding: “Traffic congestion costs the industry $49.6 billion annually; that’s equivalent to 264,500 drivers sitting still for a year,” said Brewster.
- Driver distraction: “It’s really more about the impact of distractor ‘four wheelers’ than truck drivers,” Leathers said. “Truck drivers have a ‘bird’s eye view’ of what’s happening on their left and right and many see motorists doing things other than being focused on safe driving.”
ATRI’s annual survey is based on 3,200 responses from motor carriers and commercial drivers and is key to helping the ATA develop a “roadmap” for prioritizing industry issues to address, noted Chris Spear, the trade group’s president and CEO, in a statement.
"Knowing what the industry is concerned about, and what strategies it views as most promising for addressing each issue, allows ATA and its Federation partners in the states to better focus our collective efforts on behalf of motor carriers and their employees," he explained.. "The ATRI survey results provide the roadmap we need to put wins on the board for this industry and the nation's economy as a whole."