Georgia Freight and Logistics report addresses trucking issues

January 12, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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Trucking issues were front and center of the Georgia Freight and Logistics 2020 report, including truck parking and driver retention.

Released in late December, the Georgia Freight and Logistics report compiles information provided by stakeholders and makes recommendations based on that information. With the pandemic highlighting many existing issues, the report focuses on issues with truck parking and a so-called driver shortage.

Truck parking

The Georgia Freight and Logistics report acknowledges the truck parking crisis and how it affects the drivers.

“Drivers are continually faced with violating the electronic logs mandate or parking in places which are not designated for trucks and can pose safety risks to the drivers and the traveling public,” the report states.

During a meeting in September, the Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission discussed truck parking specifically. Daniel Studdard, principal planner for the Atlanta Regional Commission, kicked off the conversation.

“(Truck parking) is something that doesn’t get talked about as much, hasn’t gotten as much focus realistically as you can see by our previous planning efforts,” Studdard said. “It’s certainly relevant for the safety of truck drivers as well as anybody on the road.”

More details about that truck parking report can be found here.

The Georgia Department of Transportation Office of Planning’s truck parking analysis found that nearly a quarter of privately owned truck stops belong to two national chains: Love’s Travel Stops and Pilot Travel Centers. GDOT concluded that “some fueling stations do provide truck parking but the demand continues to outpace supply, even when accounting for public parking such as the parking provided by rest areas along the state’s interstates.”

A follow-up study will look into options for innovative public sector investment and policies for short- and long-haul truck parking. GDOT will release those results sometime in the second quarter of this year.

Workforce issues

According to the Georgia Freight and Logistics report, the state is also experiencing problems related to a driver “shortage” and a retention issue. Those problems were exacerbated during the pandemic, when e-commerce increased significantly.

When discussion the issue, the report points out how other truck industry problems relate to trucking employment.

“Companies have a hard time hiring and retaining truck drivers due to candidates’ concerns with compensation, hours of service, and truck parking; these are the top three concerns for commercial drivers seeking employment,” the Georgia Freight and Logistics report states.

The report finds that the top issue facing the industry is a driver shortage. That problem was worsened by the pandemic, which shut down training schools and state driver services offices. Additionally, older drivers had to take more time off as they run a higher risk of contracting the virus.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has contended for years that the driver shortage is a myth. Rather, there is a problem with driver retention. That notion was validated by a Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued in March 2019. Essentially, the bureau concluded that the evidence does not support the theory of a labor shortage within the trucking industry and that increasing wages could alleviate any issues with recruitment and retention.

In the Georgia Freight and Logistics report, the commission points out that “the American Transportation Research Institute suggests advocating for Congress and federal agencies to develop an apprenticeship program to attract, train, and retain safe 18-20 year old interstate drivers to the industry.”

However, OOIDA argues that since the issue is based on a retention issue, not a shortage, allowing younger drivers is not the way to go. In fact, the Association contends that groups that represent large carriers want younger drivers for the cheaper labor. Studies show that younger drivers are involved in more crashes. Consequently, insurance for younger drivers is typically higher.

Another solution posited by the Georgia Freight and Logistics report is to use rail to move goods. Since the state constitution prevents investment in private rail lines, one suggestion is to double the short line tax credit to a $7,000 per mile credit to incentivize infrastructure investment.

Recommendation by Georgia Freight and Logistics commission

The commission made several recommendations to solve identified issues, some beneficial to truckers and others potentially disruptive to the industry.

Recommendations that can hit the wallets of truckers  include doubling the amount of rail freight from 17% to 35%. Also related to rail, the commission suggests upgrading shortline rail to Class II track classification to standards.

The Georgia Freight and Logistics report also recommends building major infrastructure projects through private financing, e.g., tolls. However, the commission does suggest using that revenue to fund truck parking.

Recommendations that can prove to be beneficial to truckers include:

  • Strive to provide options that maintain speeds of 45 mph or higher on all interstate highways.
  • Increase transportation capacity in strategic locations around Georgia.
  • Support maintenance progress and repair needs on existing roadways.
  • Relieve regular bottlenecks on Georgia’s major freight corridors.
  • Mitigate traffic congestion in urban areas.

The Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission also suggests designating trucking driving schools as essential businesses in the event another emergency declaration temporarily shuts down businesses. Furthermore, the report also recommends a workforce development grant that would allow advertising in public schools for commercial truck driving. LL

 

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Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.