Every fall, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) issues its report ranking the top issues facing the trucking industry.
The report is compiled by surveying 2,500 industry stakeholders. This group includes carriers, drivers, suppliers, industry trainers and law enforcement.
For the fifth year in a row, driver shortage topped the list, getting four times as many first-place votes as the second issue on the list, driver retention.
The full list of ranked issues is:
- Driver Shortage
- Retention of Drivers
- Driver Compensation
- Lawsuit Abuse Reform
- Truck Parking
- Compliance, Safety, Accountability
- Insurance Cost and Availability
- Diesel Technician Shortage
Will the transition from high school to the open road become seamless? In the ATRI report, the top-ranked solution to driver shortages was to seek younger drivers. Specifically, the remedy was the expansion of the DRIVE Safe Act to allow CDL eligibility for 18–20-year-olds. Thus, this proposed solution would add to the driver pool. Plus, this change could lead to more younger professionals jumping into a career in trucking.
Third on the list of solutions to driver shortages was a change to federal foreign driver regulations. This solution proposes that foreign truck drivers come to the U.S. under EB-3 permanent work authorization permits instead of on an H-2B visa. The rationale behind this solution is that these individuals are skilled and ready to work. Thus, with this change, foreign drivers would more permanently fill the many open driver positions in the U.S.
Retaining skilled drivers is a consistent challenge. What can keep drivers in this industry? Better wages never hurt. As a result of this concern, there is a lot of discussion around driver pay. If compensation in trucking continues to rise above competing industries, it could make staying in this industry more appealing. With such a complex issue, there will need to be more research. A majority of those surveyed in the ATRI report feel driver retention needs to be studied further. Thus, direct feedback from drivers will be crucial for understanding driver retention.
Driver detention is no fun for anyone. Lost time and money are a big deal. Based on carrier feedback, one solution for the ongoing driver detention issue would be to measure the impact of detention tied to the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Driver morale suffers as they wait in detention and lose money. As a result, some fleets are turning to hourly wages with safety and on-time bonuses as a reaction to driver detention. As more fleets get creative to keep driver morale high, hourly wage structures may become the norm in trucking.
The England Carrier Services (ECS) division offers a variety of services for carriers ranging from maintenance to support. As ECS members, carriers have access to nationwide discounts on fuel and tires from dedicated team members who are committed to finding the best price. ECS also provides factoring services with benefits such as same-day funding to a bank account or fuel card. These options allow carriers the freedom to focus on growing their business while saving time and money.