For half a decade, driver shortage was the top trucking concern according to ATRI’s annual survey. In a twist of economic fate, the top spot has changed, and we are not surprised.
On October 22, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released its 18th annual Top Industry Issues report.
Due to record-high fuel prices and their roller-coaster swings this year, fuel prices became the top concern in trucking.
The top five industry concerns for 2022 are:
- fuel prices
- driver shortage
- truck parking
- driver compensation, and
- the economy
“ATRI’s list is a true reflection of what it was like to be a trucker this year,” said ATA Chairman Harold A. Sumerford Jr. “High fuel prices and finding drivers were two of our industry’s biggest challenges – challenges made more difficult by the economy and the continued lack of truck parking.”
With the release earlier this year of FMCSA’s Notice of Intent for a speed limiter rule in 2023, Speed Limiters ranked in the top ten this year for the first time, coming in ninth overall and fifth among commercial driver respondents.
Among driver respondents, the top three concerns are:
- Truck Parking
- Fuel Prices, and
- Driver Compensation
“This year’s survey had the highest number of responses to date,” said ATRI’s President Rebecca Brewster, with more than 4,200 trucking industry stakeholders participating. “[This shows] how committed our industry is to identifying the most critical concerns and more importantly, figuring out how we collectively deal with each issue.”
Speed limiters coming to a truck near you?
The FMCSA has released a notice of intent to proceed with rulemaking to mandate speed limiters on most heavy-duty trucks, restarting a process that had been dormant for six years.
It makes sense why since speed limiters contribute to fuel efficiency, and for this reason their use tends to rise with fuel prices.
In 2021, 94 percent of respondents used speed governors on some or all their trucks, compared with just 81 percent in 2020.
Even small carriers, which often refrain from using them, joined this trend: 82 percent of fleets with 25 or fewer trucks used speed governors in 2021, whereas only 50 percent used them in 2020.
Right now, there is no suggestion on what the speed limiter should be set for, such as 65mph, 68 mph, or 75mph and, if a rule is submitted, we will likely not see it affect drivers until 2024-2026.
ATRI researching international driver recruitment
To help mitigate the driver shortage, ATRI 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.”
This is on top of the under-21 interstate pilot program and expanded military driver training program.
[Related: How Successful Driver Training Programs Reduce Driver Turnover]
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