What Are the Challenges That Trucking Industry Is Facing?
• Driver Shortage:
For the fourth year in a row, the driver shortage ranked as the industry’s top concern in 2020. The issue was only exacerbated this year, with some drivers leaving due to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and others exiting the industry over COVID-19-related health concerns.
• Driver Compensation:
For the second year in a row, driver compensation has emerged as a top 10 issue, moving all the way to the second spot this year. Many believe the driver shortage and driver compensation are linked and that increases need to occur across the board, especially when other competing industries offer preferred options like being home every night.
• Truck Parking:
The growing scarcity of appropriate and safe truck parking continues to be a dilemma for drivers, especially during a year when many states closed public rest areas due to COVID-19-related concerns.
• Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA):
CSA as a concern rose back to the top five this year. The FMCSA has implemented multiple systemic changes over the years to address CSA concerns. However, according to ATRI, “carriers continue to report challenges with data quality, peer group assignments, and challenges with the Crash Preventability Program.”
• Insurance Cost/Availability:
Insurance costs hasn’t appeared in the top 10 list since 2005. Insurance costs continue to rise, especially among smaller fleets. These rising costs have been cited as the primary reason for multiple fleets going out of business.
• Driver Retention:
Driver retention is critical during a driver shortage, and carriers are constantly seeking new and improved retention strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic originally helped to slow the driver turnover rate due to concerns over job security and the need to keep the country’s supply lines moving. As the economy slowly returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, retention rates will likely start to drop once more.
• Tort Reform:
Tort reform hasn’t been a top 10 concern since 2012. According to ATRI, its return to the list is indicative of the “growing attention and concern over truck crash litigation, nuclear verdicts, and criminal activity involved staged crashes.” Nuclear verdicts have been growing bigger and bigger—from 2010 to 2018, verdict awards grew 51.7 percent annually, while inflation grew only 1.7 percent.
The COVID-19 pandemic created an economic fallout similar to the Great Depression, with businesses closing permanently, millions of unemployed Americans, and the GDP hitting new record lows. While business and job growth began to rebound in the third quarter, it’s hard to say when the U.S. economy will return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
• Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities:
On the list for the second year in a row, detention/delay at customer facilities continues to be a pervasive issue for drivers. According to ATRI, “34 percent of survey respondents indicated that detention times were worse during the pandemic—possibly the results of reduced staffing at shipper/receiver facilities” due to the virus.
• Hours-of-Service (HOS):
HOS fell eight spots in the list this year—from second to 10th. The final HOS rule went into effect in September 2020 and took care of many of the issues identified in previous years’ surveys, including short-haul exception, the 30-minute rest break, and the sleeper berth provision.
And it’s true that trucking industry has many challenges, however what industry doesn’t have any challenges?
With proper guidance and experience, it is easy to navigate your company through all the challenges and thrive in any economy. Trucking demand will continue to grow as people need more and more goods shipped.
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