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Supply Chain News: Top Issues for Truckers 2021 from ATRI


Top Three Issues all Connected to Driver Shortage

Oct. 26, 2021
SCDigest Editorial Staff

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is just out with its annual ranking of the top issues for US truck carriers, and to no surprise for the fifth straight year the driver shortage topped the list.

The survey attracted about 2500 respondents after solicitation to participate from ATRI’s own database, social media promotion, trade press coverage and more. 52.4% of those survey respondents were carriers, while truck drivers comprised 24.1%, and others in the industry 23.5%.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


Insurance rates on truckers keep rising, leading many carriers to take on more risk (e.g., higher deductibles) to reduce rates.

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Respondents were asked to select their top three choices from the list of 30 critical issues, and subsequently rank their top three preferred strategies that correspond to each selected issue.

To score the results, ATRI awarded an issue that ranked by a respondent as most important three points, while an issue ranked second received two points and an issue ranked third receiver one point.

Talley that up across 2500 respondents and out pops a top 10, as summarized below in both a graphic from the report and a text summary:

1. The Driver Shortage: This issue had more than four times as many first-place votes as the next issue in this year’s survey. In terms on strategies to address, the top result was to allow 18-20 year old drivers on Federal highways, followed by developing new outreach initiatives targeted toward high school students and young adults and then expansion of the U.S. EB-3 Permanent Work Authorization permit to recruit qualified candidates from other countries.

2. Driver Retention: Obviously tied very closely to the driver shortage issue, this issue rose four positions to become the second most critical issue overall this year. The top recommendation to address retention was to research and prioritize retention strategies, based on driver feedback and driver tenure data, followed by evaluating the impact of truck driver benefits, including health insurance and retirement benefits, on driver retention.

3. Driver Compensation: Another related issue came in here at number 3. The report notes that “Many drivers believe that the driver shortage and driver compensation are one in the same issue, and that the solution to the shortage is simply to increase driver pay.” The top recommendation was to analyze truck driver compensation in relation to other competing employment sectors (e.g. construction).

4. Lawsuit Abuse Reform: This issue rose three spots this year to become the fourth highest issue of concern. Significant attention has been brought to the issues surrounding truck crash litigation over the past two years, including the rise in nuclear (huge dollar value) verdicts. The top recommendation was to advocate for elimination of “phantom” damages, which refers to often a large delta between billed medical costs versus paid medical costs resulting from a crash.



Source: ATRI

5. Truck Parking: This is the 10th year that the lack of available truck parking has made the top 10 list of industry concerns, and among commercial drivers it has consistently ranked in their top 3. The top recommendation is to create a new dedicated federal funding program designed to increase truck parking capacity at freight-critical locations.

(See More Below)




6. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA): This has to do with the FMCSA’s safety measurement system, first implemented in 2010, which has both supporters and critics in the industry. Top recommendation: work with FMCSA to update its carrier prioritization methodology, improve its accuracy, and enhance transparency in CSA.

7. Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities: This issue rose two spots to number seven overall. “The increase in delays creates cascading impacts for drivers as their available hours-of-service are wasted,” the report notes. Top recommendation: identify best practices, technologies, and strategies that reduce or eliminate driver detention at shipper/receiver facilities. We say: easier said than done.

8. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding: The report says “years of inattention by federal leaders has resulted in poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion that creates wear and tear on vehicles, wastes fuel and increases emissions, creates additional stress for drivers, and negatively impacts industry productivity.” Interestingly, the top recommendation is to prevent imposition of truck-only taxes, followed by raising Federal fuel taxes on gas and diesel.

9. Insurance Cost/Availability: Insurance rates on truckers keep rising, leading many carriers to take on more risk (e.g., higher deductibles) to reduce rates. Top recommendation is for someone to quantify the impact of rising insurance costs on industry operations, safety investments, and driver training.

10. Diesel Technician Shortage: This issue makes the top 10 for the first time. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be over 28,000 openings for diesel service technicians and mechanics for each of the next 10 years. Top recommendation: encourage collaboration between motor carriers and local community colleges/tech schools to promote technician training and placement.

So there you have it – this year’s ATRI top 10 trucking sector issues for 2021. The full interesting report is available here: Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry 2021.

What are your thoughts on this ATRI top 10 issues list? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.







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