ATRI survey reveals disconnect between truckers, fleets

October 30, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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If you want to understand the disconnect between big fleets and truck drivers, the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Industry Issues Survey is a good place to start.

The annual ATRI survey asks motor carriers and truck drivers to identify the most critical issues confronting the trucking industry.

Using the ATRI survey responses from both motor carriers and truckers, the top 10 list for 2020 is:

  1. Driver shortage.
  2. Driver compensation.
  3. Truck parking.
  4. Compliance, Safety, Accountablity.
  5. Insurance availability/cost.
  6. Driver retention.
  7. Tort reform.
  8. Economy.
  9. Detention/delay at customer facilities.
  10. Hours of service.

Those are the overall results, but the differences between how motor carriers and truckers view the industry become evident when you look at their respective top 10 lists.

Commercial drivers

  1. Truck parking.
  2. Driver compensation.
  3. Detention/delay at customer facilities.
  4. Hours of service.
  5. Driver training standards.
  6. Automated truck technology.
  7. Compliance, Safety, Accountability.
  8. Driver health and wellness.
  9. Speed limiters.
  10. ELD mandate. 

Motor carriers

  1. Driver shortage.
  2. Driver retention.
  3. Compliance, Safety, Accountability.
  4. Insurance cost/availability.
  5. Tort reform.
  6. Economy.
  7. Transportation infrastructure/congestion/funding.
  8. Driver distraction.
  9. Detention/delay at customer facilities.
  10. Hours of service.

Disconnect

Drivers’ top two concerns in the ATRI survey don’t make it onto the motor carriers’ top 10, while the drivers’ Nos. 3 and 4 issues squeak into the bottom of the motor carriers’ rankings.

Meanwhile, motor carriers seem overwhelmed by the issue of a driver shortage and the inability to retain drivers. In fact, driver shortage ranked No. 1 in the Top Industry Issues Survey for the fourth consecutive year.

Of course, OOIDA will be the first to point out that the idea of there being a shortage of truck drivers is a myth. Instead, OOIDA says the real issue is motor carriers’ inability to retain drivers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics even issued a report affirming OOIDA’s stance that there is not a driver shortage. The report said the evidence doesn’t support the theory of a shortage and that increasing wages could alleviate any issues with recruitment and retention.

No matter how you slice it though, we can all agree that motor carriers believe that keeping good truck drivers behind the wheel is a top concern every year. But instead of looking at the truckers’ list of concerns – such as a lack of adequate parking, low wages, and being stuck in detention – big fleets turn their focus toward attempting to lower the minimum interstate driving age to 18 and the development of autonomous technology.

Experienced drivers are the safest drivers. If motor carriers start addressing truck drivers’ list of concerns, turnover rates will go down and safety will go up.

By increasing wages and addressing drivers’ other top concerns, trucking will become a more attractive career path, and motor carriers will no longer have to list a lack of drivers as their top concern each and every year. LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.