Motorists and commercial drivers agree on just four of the top 10 challenges the trucking industry faces, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) annual study.
The lack of driver, long-distance drivers was the top issue in ATRI's annual survey that has taken the industry's pulse for the past 15 years.
ATRI released the results of critical questions from 2019 October 6 at the American Trucking Associations & # 39; (ATA) Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego.
Motor companies, which made up 51% of the 2000 respondents, picked the overwhelming driver shortage, which ATA pegged to 60,800 at the end of 2018. The problem did not hit the top 1
Drivers, comprising 35% of those surveyed, listed driver compensation as the most important issue. It was the total list for the first time, ranked third. Carrier, who lifted the driver paying an average of 6% in 2018 when truck capacity was tight, did not list the issue in the top 10.
The lack of recognition from the two groups about driver shortages versus driver salaries points to the long-standing chicken-and-egg argument over whether the industry would have a shortage if the drivers were better paid.
What is not in dispute is that many drivers reach retirement age with few youngsters trained to take their places. ATA projects a shortage of 105,000 drivers for hire by 2023 if nothing changes. The defect could balloon to 160,000 by 2028.
“There is no reason. There is no solution, "said Bob Costello, ATA's chief economist who regularly projects driver shortages and turnover figures." This is not just a question in the United States. It also affects Europe, Mexico and China. "
The average age of a driver trainee is 35 years," said United States Truck Inc. CEO James Reed during an ATA panel debate. Rather than seeking a truck as a career in the 20s, young people pursue other options. When they marry and start families, the duration of a trucking career as "a real job" becomes appealing.
"How do you break that cycle?" Reed asked.
Gary Helms, manager of the Covenant Transportation Group, said recruiting middle-aged men and women seeking a different career can help. He became a trucker after a 25-year career in construction. He also hopes 18- to 20-year-olds are cleared to run across state lines.
"Anyone can get trained," Helms said. "These new trucks are practically self-driving."
ATA lobbying pending legislation that allows 18 to 20-year-olds to run an interstate rather than just within a state's borders.
Carriers try to attract women, who make up 47% of the workforce, but make up only 6% of truck drivers.
Converting some of the nearly 1 million drivers for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft into trucking is another option, Costello said.
Where they agree
Carriers and drivers listed the same problem in their studies in four areas: operating hours (# 2 total); driver's custody and customer delays (# 4 total); the electronic logging mandate (ELD) (# 7 total); and transport infrastructure / congestion and financing (# 9 total).
Opening hours, as ATRI's president and CEO Rebecca Brewster said made the list each year, continue to annoy both carriers and drivers. Flexibility is central to regulating changes proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. But even these proposals fall short, Reed said.
"We have to find a way back to the hands of professional drivers," he said. "Ultimately, they know best."
Storage and delays at sender facilities made the list for the first time. Carriers and drivers ranked sixth and fifth respectively. Waiting times for loading or unloading of six hours or longer increased by 27% between 2014 and 2018, according to an ATRI study.
For drivers, the pain points follow their 14 hour driving clock ticking away while in custody. Lack of break areas and clean toilet facilities also matter. Shipping companies look at the cost of their equipment rather than making money.
"I would rate courses differently based on length of stay and how (shipping facilities) treat our drivers," Reed said.
The ELD mandate continues to fall lower on the list. Drivers ranked fourth. Carriers placed the eighth. The deadline is December 16 for the final phase of electronic harvesting – conversion of trucks from Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) to ELDs.
Carriers and drivers agreed on the ninth overall critical problem – infrastructure repairs, how to pay for them and the impact on traffic jams.
An 2018 ATRI study found that traffic stops and bottlenecks in traffic amount to 1.2 billion hours lost productivity annually. That's the equivalent of 425,000 drivers sitting idle for a full year, and idling consumes 6.87 billion liters of fuel, Brewster said.
"Imagine what we could do if we could eradicate that cost," Reed said. "The federal government has not shown any will to resolve this."
ATA maintains its proposed federal fuel tax increase of five cents a year over four years is the most economical and efficient way to meet critical infrastructure needs. A trillion trillion dollars that President Donald Trump campaigned has stopped in Congress.
"The takeaway for me is how closely these issues are linked," Brewster told FreightWaves. "There is no way to pick just one and fix it."
Overall, the ATRI list of critical issues 2019:
1. Driver shortage
2. Hours of Service
3. Driver compensation
4. Storage / Delay at Customer Facility
5. Truck Parking
6. Driver's Storage
7. ELD Mandate
9. Transport Infrastructure / Overload / Financing
Transporters and Drivers Decisive Questions
Commercial Drivers Motor Carriers
1. Driver compensation 1. Driver shortage
2. Opening hours 2. Driver's storage
3. Truck Parking 3 . Opening hours
4 ELD mandate 4. CSA
5 . Storage / Delay at Customer Plants 5. Infrastructure /
overload / financing
6. Speed Limiters 6 . Customer Storage / Delay
7. Driver Training Standard 7. Economy
8. Driver distraction 8. ELD mandate
9. Infrastructure / 9 Insurance Cost / Availability
Lungs / Means
10. Autonomous truck technology 10. Tort reform