Motor carriers and commercial drivers agree on just four of the Top 10 challenges facing the trucking industry, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) annual study.
The shortage of for-hire, long-haul drivers was the top issue in ATRI’s annual survey that has taken the industry’s pulse for the last 15 years.
ATRI released the 2019 critical issues results October 6 at the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Management Conference and Exposition in San Diego.
Motor carriers, who made up 51% of the 2,000 respondents, overwhelmingly picked the driver shortage, which the ATA pegged at 60,800 at the end of 2018. The issue did not crack the Top 10 for commercial drivers.
Drivers, comprising 35% of respondents, listed driver compensation as their top issue. It made the overall list for the first time, ranking third. Carriers, who raised driver pay an average of 6% in 2018 when truck capacity was tight, did not list the issue in their Top 10.
The lack of acknowledgment by the two groups on driver shortage vs. driver pay points to a longstanding chicken-and-egg argument over whether the industry would have a shortage if drivers were better paid.
What is not in dispute is that many drivers are reaching retirement age with few young people trained to take their place. The ATA projects a shortage of 105,000 for-hire drivers by 2023 if nothing changes. The shortage could balloon to 160,000 by 2028.
Where they agree
Carriers and drivers listed the same issue on their surveys in four areas: hours of service (No. 2 overall); driver detention and delays at customer facilities (No. 4 overall); the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate (No. 7 overall); and transportation infrastructure/congestion and funding (No. 9 overall).
Overall 2019 ATRI critical issues list:
1. Driver shortage
2. Hours of Service
3. Driver compensation
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