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1. CSA 2. Hours-of-Service 3. Economy 4. Driver Shortage 5. Fuel Supply/Fuel Prices 6. EOBR/ELD Mandate

2012 TOP INDUSTRY ISSUES SURVEY 7. Driver Retention 8. Truck Parking 9. Driver Health/Wellness 10. Congestion/Truck Bottlenecks (tie) 10. Highway Infrastructure (tie)

qualified new drivers put the driver shortage atNo. 4 in the survey of top industry concerns. Immediately following the economy as an issue, the ranking of the driver shortage highlights the unevenness of the economic recovery and the diversity of the trucking industry.While some in the industry are worried about freight demand, others cannot find enough drivers to accommodate growing demand.However, the source of the driver shortage may not be completely tied to a growing economy or baby boomer retirements. Many in the industry are reporting significant hiring challenges as a result of CSA. And, the proposed changes to theHOS rules have industry stakeholders concerned about additional impacts on the driver labor pool once the rules take effect in 2013. Regardless of the reasons, the driver shortage is a major concern for many in the industry. Over a quarter (27.9 percent) of respondents feel strongly enough about the driver shortage to rank it first, second or third. Rounding out the top five in this year’s

survey is fuel issues/fuel prices. This perennial top industry issue typically fluctuates in ranking based on the price of fuel. In those years, like 2008, when fuel prices skyrocketed, it rankedNo. 1 in theATRI survey. This year it maintained itsNo. 5 position from 2011.However, fuel issues remain a concern for many in the industry, particularly given the impact that fuel costs have a on a motor carrier’s bottom line.ATRI recently released its 2012 Update to the OperationalCosts of Trucking study which found that fuel and oil costs are the second largest carrier cost center after driver wages and benefits. This year the Top Industry Issues Survey

saw several new issues emerge as top concerns, among them theNo. 6 issue, the Electronic Onboard Recorder/Electronic Logging Device (EOBR/ELD) mandate. In 2011, FMCSA was forced to vacate a proposed EOBR/ELD rule due to a court decision regarding concerns over driver harassment.


Though FMCSA had been working toward a newEOBR/ELD final rule that addressed harassment concerns, the agency’s work was preempted by the inclusion of an EOBR/ ELD mandate forHOS tracking in the MAP-21 transportation bill passed by Congress in 2012. In MAP-21, Congress gave the agency until October 1, 2013 to issue a final rule. Two other new issues that appeared

in the 2012 survey for the first time were Truck Parking (No. 8) and DriverHealth/ Wellness (No. 9). Concerns over the lack of available truck parking appear to be increasing with the closing of many public rest areas and the uncertain impacts from the newHOS provision which will require additional rest breaks for drivers.With driver turnover increasing and carriers experiencing difficulty in finding qualified new drivers, the emergence of driver health and wellness as an issue points to the recognition that improving commercial driver health is critical to preserving the industry’s most valuable asset. Where the real value of the annual industry

survey lies is in the direction it provides industry groups at the state and national levels in terms of the issues and strategies that motor carriers believe will have the most impact on the industry for years to come. Armed with this information, state trucking associations and the American Trucking Associations are better equipped to address the issues more broadly and proactively. ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)

(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system. A copy of the 2012 Top Industry Issues Survey analysis report is available fromATRI at RW

Rebecca M. Brewster is president and COO of American Transportation Research Institute. She may be reached at

ROADWISE | ISSUE 6, 2012 |

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