The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released their 2022 Top Research Priorities that includes five topics:
- climate change,
- driver training,
- international driver recruitment, and
- predatory towing
These research priorities were announced at the American Trucking Associations’ annual Mid-Year Management Conference on May 16.
Marijuana: Impacts of Decriminalization on Trucking Industry
As more states move to decriminalize marijuana and other Schedule I drugs, this study would update ATRI’s 2019 report by examining roadway safety and workforce impacts in those states that have changed their controlled substance laws.
Unfortunately, these laws were changed without a field-sobriety test that police can use roadside to determine if people were driving while high.
Law enforcement can be trained to recognize impairment, but they do not have a way to confirm that roadside,” she said.
“We’re looking at the safety impact in those states that have liberalized their laws. We know there are high numbers of drivers who have done a pre-employment screen and they show up in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but they do not initiate their return-to-duty process or leave the industry altogether,” said ATRI President Rebecca Brewster.
SEC Climate Rule Impacts on the Trucking Industry
In March 2022, the SEC proposed a rule to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for investors. This rule would require reporting by publicly traded companies on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit, to measure climate change.
ATRI’s research will quantify the potential trickle-down impacts of the SEC climate rules on the trucking industry and their supply chains, focusing on possible Scope 3 reporting requirements.
It will document entities within the supply chain of publicly traded companies that will have to report carbon outputs.
Efficacy of Driver Training on Safety Outcomes and Driver Retention
With the new ELDT rules in effect for CDL driver training, ATRI wants to research how impactful that training is for safety outcomes for new carriers.
Driver shortage and driver retention were identified as the top two industry concerns in 2021, so understanding how initial driver training contributes to successful and safe integration of new entrants into trucking will be the focus of this research, updating an earlier ATRI study from 2008.
Utilizing EB-3 Work Permits to Help Mitigate the Driver Shortage
This research will explore the potential for recruiting drivers from outside the U.S. through the employer-sponsored EB-3 Work Permit.
“There are fleets that are successful bringing in drivers from other countries, utilizing these work permits,” Brewster said. “We want to do a deeper dive on that and figure out what’s working for those fleets, how they have made it work. What’s been the experience of those drivers they’ve brought in, because this is just another tool in the toolbox for us as an industry for dealing with the driver shortage.”
Quantifying Industry Impacts from Predatory Towing
Some trucking companies have alleged that towing companies have gouged the trucking industry.
Predatory towing can take many forms – including tow operators who park near known crash locations, take possession of vehicles, and charge exorbitant rates for release of the vehicle and cargo.
“The truck is towed away, sometimes by an unscrupulous operator who holds the truck and the cargo for ransom with exorbitant bills,” Brewster said. “We want to look at how extensive this problem is.”
This research will quantify the extent of the issue and identify best practices from states that have successfully addressed unscrupulous tow operators through legislation.