The American Trucking Associations conference in Las Vegas this year was the venue for a discussion of the issues that are top of mind in the trucking industry. At the conference, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) presented its findings from its annual survey of motor carriers and commercial drivers to identify the major concerns among trucking professionals. In 2016, again, federal rules and regulations dominated the list.
For drivers, the leading item is the upcoming deadline for implementing electronic logging devices in commercial vehicle fleets. The ELD mandate is a preoccupation for more than 65 percent of survey respondents. They expect that the rigorous scrutiny directed at hours of service (HOS) and a learning curve in adopting new technology could have a negative impact on business.
But some foresee that for trucking companies, elogs will help more than hurt in the long run. Derek Weathers, president and chief executive officer of transportation provider Werner Enterprises and an ATRI board member, said that the initial drag on productivity caused by ELDs may last only a year or so. He hopes that placing fleets on a level playing field where ELDs and HOS are involved will help the situation.
Furthermore, HOS rules continue to vex truckers, not least because the ground underneath seems to shift every so often as new rules are proposed, implemented and—as happened in September—fail to be confirmed by the Senate and House, at the last minute before expiration.
Number three rounds out the list within the same topic—regulations—comprising matters such as the revised rules on emission standards and other restrictions.
After these three, the rest of the top 10 encompass a more varied set of concerns. The rankings differed slightly between drivers and carriers, but when adjusted for overall frequency the order reads as follows:
- The ELD mandate
- HOS rules
- Other government regulations, including new rules on greenhouse gas emissions
- Parking for trucks
- The overall economy, which exerts a strong influence on this industry as well as most others
- The federal Compliance Safety Accountability program
- The driver shortage
- Driver retention
- Infrastructure and traffic
- Driver distraction
Regarding number 10, Weathers said that driver distraction was not cited as a hazard occasioned by truck drivers as much as those who share the road with them. He commented that in their elevated seating position, truckers “see motorists doing things other than being focused on safe driving.”
If you have not taken steps to get ready for the electronic logging device mandate, visit ELD Answers to learn how.