ATRI’s 2017 Critical Issues in Trucking has Driver Shortage and ELD Mandate as Top 2 Concerns
ATRI’s annual Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry recently came out and trucking companies looking for qualified truck drivers hasn’t been the top concern for the trucking industry since 2006. The driver shortage replaces last year’s top concern, the ELD Mandate, which legal efforts to block the rule were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year and 3 attempts to stop or delay the rule in Congress has failed.
According to ATRI’s report, “An optimistic trucking industry outlook, based on improving economic growth in the United States, has many in the industry concerned that the demand for truck drivers will further outpace the supply of qualified drivers.”
Strategies to handle the driver shortage is to develop a graduated CDL program to attract safe, younger drivers and to formalize a national truck driver recruitment program, according to the report.
ATRI’s 2017 Critical Issues:
1. Driver Shortage
2. ELD Mandate
3. HOS Regulations
4. Truck Parking
5. Driver Retention
8. Driver Distraction
9. Infrastructure and Congestion
10. Driver Health and Wellness
Hours of service regulations
The U.S. DOT’s decision to ultimately rescind 2013-instituted regs regarding drivers’ use of a 34-hour restart eased some of the concern surrounding hours of service, ATRI says, but it remains a top industry issue “due in large part to the industry’s desire for increased flexibility in the rules,” the report notes. A chief strategy for mitigating concerns about hours of service rigidity is to continue to press for split sleeper berth flexibility, says the report.
Actions by Congress in recent years to scale back the program’s publicly available scores have minimized some of the industry’s concerns amd FMCSA is undertaking a study to try to implement crash accountability into CSA, which we may know more about early next year.
ATRI says states should enact stiffer penalties and “more aggressive enforcement” of distracted driving, across all vehicle types. Some states are taking this problem into their own hands, such as Oregon’s new Distracted Driving Law. If you live, drive or transport through Oregon, then you better get to know Oregon’s new phone/electronics law changes while driving (or stopped at a light). Watch our 5 minute video.
Infrastructure and congestion
“Poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion create wear and tear on vehicles, waste fuel and increase emissions, create additional stress for drivers, and negatively impact industry productivity.” ATRI says the industry needs to continue to advocate for a long-term highway funding fix at the federal level and a national freight plan that identifies freight bottlenecks and works to mitigate them.
The state of Oregon in the Northwest is in the midst of tackling this issue with a $5.3 Billion transportation bill signed earlier this year. The bill increases the tax on gasoline from the current 30 cents a gallon to 34 cents the first of next year, and by two additional cents in each of the succeeding three bienniums, for a total of 10 cents by January 2024.
Interstate motor carriers know that in lieu of a tax on diesel fuel, Oregon levies what is already by far the highest operating tax in the U.S., the Oregon weight-mile tax, currently 16.38 cents a mile for a truck at 80,000 pounds. The bill takes that tax to 20.48 cents a mile come January 1 next year, and eventually to 25.12 cents January 1, 2024.
For purposes of comparison, if that 80,000-pound truck gets 7.0 miles per gallon, that 20.48 cents a mile is the equivalent of a diesel fuel tax at $1.43+ a gallon.
The bill also includes a payroll tax for transit at 0.1 percent, and a sales tax of 0.5 percent on vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds.