Every year, the American Transportation Research Institute releases a
survey of the biggest trucking industry trends and issues truckers encounter. After polling hundreds of workers,managers, and owners of trucking companies, the ATRI ranks and files all of the responses. The subsequent report notes not only the largest
concerns but strategies to overcome major issues. Some of the trucking industry trends come at no surprise: they follow national trends that affect everyone. Others seem a little inappropriately ranked, but the data explains them all.
- For the second year in a row, the economy has been the largest concern for the trucking industry. Because trucking relies so heavily on consumers, any change in buying habits will affect the need for shipping. That said, only 35% of respondents ranked the economy as their number one issue, a 16% drop from
the previous year. Like other economic indicators, it’s a sign of national improvement.
- Considering that the Comprehensive Safety Analysis recently debuted, it’s not a huge surprise that a quarter of respondents considered the CSA the biggest issue of the year. Any new safety regulation can be a frightening thing, especially in the beginning when both the government and truckers are learning its methods of implementation. The standards involved with the CSA aren’t unreasonable, but they’re new, and no one’s sure the effect they will have on other trucking industry trends.
- Similar to the CSA, many trucking officials ranked the broader category of “government regulation” as their top concern. Though for years most standards have been imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, more and more local counties and agencies are applying their own regulations. These standards and impositions have dramatically raised compliance costs. Because new regulations appear all of the time, they bring about huge shifts in trucking industry trends, since truckers are often scrambling to meet new standards that rarely (or worse, detrimentally) affect their workers’ safety or productivity.
- The government has for years regulated commercial driver Hours-of-Service (often shortened to HOS), and periodically they change their standards. Driver fatigue and resulting fatalities are huge concerns of both the trucking industry and the federal government, but constant alterations of HOS rules put the
trucking industry into a tailspin. Since the first change in 2004, the
industry has seen a 33% drop in fatalities. Few people will argue that
these regulations aren’t good for truckers, but almost everyone in the
industry points to this huge drop and thinks, “If the system’s not broken
anymore, why fix it?”
- When the recession was at its worst, hiring and entry-level training dropped in just about every industry, so of course trucking industry trends followed suite. As the economy begins to improve, and demand for trucking increases, companies are finding a driver shortage—to such a degree that it’s among their top five biggest issues. Many managers have to focus on mass recruitment and training to compensate for the last few years of slowed hiring. It’s a positive sign for the economy as a whole, but the trucking industry has to work hard to meet these growing needs.