No doubt there are many Trucking Industry Issues out there, but in this article we will concentrate on the one that stand out of the crowd.
Actually the top 10 Trucking Industry issues that I will present today are some of the main trucking industry issues not only in America, but worldwide as well!
This topic of mine is probably not something new to you! The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), releases their Annual Critical Issues in The Trucking Industry Report – a survey on a yearly bases where they identify the main trucking industry issues and different strategies on how to deal with.
But well, as long as there is a way to fix a problem, bring it on!
Truth to be told, every year there are additional trucking industry issues that we need to worry about, but some things stayed same.
In the bucket with the one that stayed same there for a while, I will mention the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate (released in December 2015), and the legislative and regulatory challenges including the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
Even this year, ATRI presented the American Trucking Association (ATA), with their report on the critical issues in the trucking industry for the past year, and guess what?
The top 10 trucking industry issues and the way to fix them remained same like the year before!
So, I guess the good part in all those trucking industry issues is the fact that they are fixable.
Now, there are people that are specialist in this area and according to them there are some trucking industry issues that are more important than the others.
I personally think that when it comes to trucking industry issues and their importance, it’s important to say that they are all-important and need to be taken care of, but one thing at the time- as they say.
Top 10 Trucking Industry Issues
The trucking industry is rapidly growing, but also presents several challenges for big and small trucking companies.
If we shed light on the major issues facing the industry right now, we will see that they are not very different from the ones that we deal with the year before, or the prior year.
But here, without any further delay, are the most pressing issues in trucking industry today:
1. Hours-of-Service (HOS)
When it comes to trucking industry issues we all know there are many to choose from. But of them seems to jump out year after year. Obviously I am speaking about the hours of service- HOS rule. It remains one of the key trucking industry issues.
Some might not put it at the top of the list; others might not even put much thought into it. But, HOS is one of the major trucking industry issues.
It really shouldn’t be a surprise. Some say that 80 percent of the motors carriers have lost productivity due to the 34 hour restart provisions.
If I am not mistaken the rule was suspended, or amended but not before helping to create a few trucking industry issues.
The rule has been brought up from time to time and much study has been done regarding its impact on the industry.
As of September this year it seems as though they have made their final determinations and reinstated it. This is according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website.
However, if I read correctly there have been a few amendments to it. So I would highly recommend doing a little research and making sure you fully understand it and comply without creating more trucking industry issues for your business to deal with.
2. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
It seems 2014 was a good year for pushing through regulations. Many of which were done to reduce trucking industry issues, but some would argue they create new ones. Kind of like finding a solution without knowing what the problem is.
The FMCSA created the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative. In regards to trucking industry issues, the CSA’s goal is to reduce vehicular accidents, reduce injuries and fatalities, and help make the roads safer for all travellers. Obviously their main focus is on commercial trucks and buses.
So how are they to do this?
They will do this through the use of the seven BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) CSA safety measures.
These include unsafe driving, vehicle maintenance, HOS compliance, alcohol and controlled substances, driver fitness, crash indicators, and hazardous material compliance.
The FMCSA is trying to reduce trucking industry issues using the CSA initiative to help eliminate potentially preventable crashes. An example of such could be driving while tired, drinking and driving, not following set rules, and the list goes on!
It is believed that this model can then better improve how safety is measured and the data is used to reduce trucking industry issues.
The CSA will use a scoring system from which the Safety Fitness Determination gathers its data in effort to keep everyone safe.
They have been looking at a way to reduce the differing rules from state to state, particularly how they gather their own information.
There is even a strong belief that the carriers themselves may be misusing this data when choosing which carrier they will use.
To many the CSA is a tool used to help reduce trucking industry issues. Others see it as a means to protect us from ourselves.
Either way, no one can deny that some improvement does need to be made regarding safety to help reduce potential trucking industry issues.
3. Driver Shortage
When one thinks of trucking industry issues some might say over regulation is an issue.
Others might say that doesn’t matter, if you can’t even get people in the driver’s seat in the first place! So yes, driver shortage is one of the major trucking industry issues.
As a matter of fact when one thinks about trucking industry issues you should really consider this. As a matter of fact The American Trucking Association believes this to be a very serious issue.
They have gone on record as saying there is a shortcoming of 30 percent compared to just a few years ago! It is estimated that the industry needs around 48,000 new operators this year and that number is expected to climb to as many as 175,000 by 2024!
There are several reasons why this has become one of the many trucking industry issues.
The younger generation just doesn’t want the open road lifestyle that the OTR trucking require; they simply aren’t interested in the overall industry.
But a few of the other reasons may include overregulation, poor wages when you are rookie, higher cost of living, and job security.
Unfortunately the vast majority of drivers and those willing to drive are getting older. An estimated 26 percent are aged 55 or older!
There are many suggestions as to how to fix this shortcoming before it becomes the top of all trucking industry issues. As usual they are conducting research into this and looking for possible solutions.
4. Driver Retention
So in line with the driver shortage as one of the major trucking industry issues, another is keeping current operators behind the wheel. Just finding qualified drivers can be an issue much less finding good professional drivers with driving experience.
Actually the turnover rate is pretty bad for the trucking industry. As a matter of fact it is higher than most any other industry in the United States.
This creates more trucking industry issues. Besides not having qualified operators to haul goods, there are other expenses as well. It can get very costly having to constantly train drivers, and to recruit them.
Insurance rates are higher, safety ratings might be affected, and productivity will go down. It can be a huge mess!
This is something that just can’t be ignored. Workers today aren’t like they were in the past. Now they are looking for work-life balance, health, pay, benefits, and a whole slew of things drivers didn’t stress as much about even 20 years ago!
5. Truck Parking
When it comes to trucking industry issues this has always been a problem. The question of where to park the big truck during breaks, or while waiting to be loaded or unloaded is a huge concern.
Sometimes a driver might be good on hours but the dock isn’t open or ready when they get there. So then the question becomes where to park the truck?
This shortage of available parking creates many trucking industry issues. One of which is the above mentioned HOS. It can create a potentially dangerous situation if the already tired driver must push on to find a safe spot to rest.
It can also be costly when pulled by the Department of Transportation (DOT); you know they aren’t too forgiving for such things!
Keep in mind when I speak of safety I am not just speaking of ‘public safety’. But we need to consider the safety of the driver as well. Another of the trucking industry issues is personal safety. We live in a crazy world and that means you have to be extra vigilant when choosing a rest area.
Sometimes the best places are the ones you aren’t supposed to be at. Wal-Mart, Lowes, and other such retailers often have the perfect parking lots, but they have signs posted, ‘no parking’. There also might be local city ordinances against parking in city limits.
So it is best to research the area and route before you go. Make sure you know where you are allowed to park and make sure it is safe to do so.
6. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate
Even though the FMCSA is desperately trying to convince us in the safety benefits of using the electronic hours-of-service recorders, the industry stakeholders still have several concerns regarding the ELD rule.
Yes, even now, few months away from the due date, the trucking world is still puzzled to whether or not this thing will benefit or ruin it! That is neither here or there though (it is a totally new debate worth a whole new article reserved for some other time).
Anyway, to cut the long story short, basically in mainline the regulation will require that all truckers with a CDL license (who have to keep a Record of Duty Status, or RODS) must use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD), and record their hours of service.
Here it is important to mention that the new mandate does not require devices to create paper printouts of hours of service records. Therefore, the early adopters of the technology will not be forced into replacing their devices until they’ve become outdated.
Despite the rumors that the two-year implementation window will be really just two years window with no extensions, and there will be no exemptions in order to not create unfair playground for the competitors, we recently witness how FMCSA grants UPS several ELD exemptions.
Furthermore, there is and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) lawsuit, fighting to overturn the mandate only one day after publication, and still nothing. The results are still same.
The trucking world is really concern about trucker’s rights and loss of productivity, privacy and usage of private information!
So go figure! The best is yet to come!
7. Driver Health/Wellness
The line between driver health and driver safety it’s very then. Ever since 2012, this issue was placed on the list as one of the main trucking industry issues, so obviously there are some changes and steps that need to be made!
We witness lately that more and more truck drivers are fighting obesity and bed health results!
I think that it is not that we don’t do anything in regards to this problem, we honestly do, but somehow we don’t take it as serious as we should.
One way of looking to solve this critical issue, is by raising the awareness of the issue!
Just healthier food options and an increased availability of exercise facilities by itself, could drastically help improve the issue, and everyone would benefit from the outcome.
Moreover, it will have a very positive impact on the actual truck driver, and with that, the whole industry will benefit!
There is an important connection between vehicle operators’ health and the U.S. trucking industry’s ability to hold onto qualified drivers; – shows some recent study conducted by ATRI.
If we could bring more trucking companies into creating wellness programs and fitness for their drivers, there will definitely be a return-on-investment for the companies!
The trucking industry has faced many ups and downs, and yet survived and it’s stronger than ever.
With all those factors affecting the industry, the legal issues and what not, there is always a light on the end of the tunnel.
One of the trucking industry issues that will always find place on this list with top 10 trucking industry issues is the economy itself.
It was a prime concern during the Great Recession, and even though it is on the end of this list, it is still here!
Part of the reason why this issue is still taking place on the list, it’s due to recent concerns over the softer freight demand, and the implications this may have for the next year.
Furthermore, there is the matter of the European and Asian economies. Experts are concern about the consequences that a strong U.S. dollar will have on exports where our imports will be cheaper to our consumers and our exports more expensive to foreign markets.
Stagnant economic growth it’s also a treat to the transportation industry. Less growth results in less spending which also means less class 8 trucks on the roads moving goods across the nation.
A regulatory reform can very much help the economy and partially fix this one of the many trucking industry issues.
9. Transportation, Infrastructure, Congestion, Funding
This issue I think will always find place on the list with top trucking industry issues. It is an ongoing problem with not that easy fix.
The issue it’s not keeping concern just those in the trucking industry, it’s an issue that all motorists have to deal with! People in general, would love to see improvements in the public roadways and enjoy better infrastructure and less congestion.
According to ATA, the interstate congestion is costing freight trucks over 141 million hours in wasted time!
You probably wonder what will be a good strategy for this important and particular part of the many trucking industry issues?
Perhaps the advocacy of long term highway funding through some form of user fees, like increased fuel tax, can be a number one solution.
Furthermore, people also think that the prevention of additional diversion of revenue to non-highway projects , it’s a good solution and the right answer to this problem.
Limited funding and fund allocation restrictions are great concern. Even though FAST Act is allocating $225 billion over a 5-year period, that by itself is not enough in order to monitor and prioritize major infrastructure requirements.
10. Driver Distraction
Driver distraction seems to be a big problem these now days. Two years in a row driver distraction have place on the list with top 10 trucking industry issues, and there have to be a reason why.
In case you wonder, you should be looking to the increased incorporation of new technology on all vehicles as the main reason why.
Guilty as charged!
Recording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the distraction is anything that:
- Takes your eyes off the road (visual distraction);
- Your hands off the wheel (manual distraction); or
- Takes your mind off the road (cognitive distraction).
As a prime example to this issue (distraction), are known to be the touchscreen display in your vehicle, and texting and cell phone use.
Even though many states have strict rules and banned texting while driving, somehow this issue remains on the list. Moreover, in some areas hand-held devices are prohibited!
If you are a driver, that means you are probably multitasking, so no wonder why this issue is on the list year after year!
Due to distracting while driving, just in 2014 over 3,000 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in vehicle accidents. The number is growing from year to year and yet people buy those awesome gadgets! Go figure!
In order to deal with this part of the trucking industry issues, we should encourage stricter penalties and a tougher enforcement of them.
We have to be responsible on the road. No distraction! Responsible for us as well as for the other human beings lives. This is not a truck battery life that can be prolonged or replaced.
As you can see, trucking industry issues come in all sizes and shapes. Some are more obvious and have a real time impact on the industry. While others are more subtle but actually have a great impact.
Don’t let the trucking industry issues distract you from what the industry has to offer. The services that the trucking companies are providing, is something that’s a necessity no matter the economy during peacetime and during war.
Products, equipment, machines, materials, goods, and such will always need transportation method to get them where they should be. Learning the regulations can be tricky and finding drivers can be tough but the need will always be there. That for sure!
Regardless if you are part of the best intermodal trucking company, you are driving a paper truck, or you are a veteran that has some urban legends to share with the rest of the fellow, one think is sure!
The sure thing is that trucking industry issues are as normal as any other industry issues! As long as there is solution! And of course there is! There is always a solution to a trucking industry issues!
What are some of the trucking industry issues you have dealt with? What are the most important ones which directly affect you and your business? Share your thoughts and concerns with us.
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