Hours of service remains top concern in carrier survey

| October 06, 2014

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) unveiled its list of the top ten critical issues facing the North American trucking industry with results from its annual survey of more than 4,000 industry stakeholders. Operational impacts being experienced across the supply chain from the hours of service changed implemented in 2013 industry-wide propelled the hours rules to the top of the list in the ATRI Top Industry Issues report for the second year in a row.

The concern has been shared among many in Overdrive‘s readership, primarily independent and leased owner-operators. The 2013 changes to the 34-hour restart, in particular, in summer 2014 polling, were seen as a detriment to overall highway safety:

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A close second to the hours rules in terms of industry concern was the “growing driver shortage,” ATRI reported, which replaced the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program as the number two issue. With plenty of challenges still existing with CSA, it ranked third overall on the 2014 list.  

Rounding out the top five were driver retention issues and concerns with the timing and specifics of the pending FMCSA Final Rule that would mandate electronic logging devices be used to record hours of service compliance.  

Notably, a perennial concern of drivers and owner-operators appeared in the No. 6 position — “Truck parking” was also high on a list of recommended safety-enhancing action issues early this year from the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. The report (you can request a download via this page) stressed the top favored strategy for dealing with the problem among respondents was to “support and encourage investment in new truck parking facilities and work to reopen closed public rest facilities.” The issue was included for the first time in the ATRI top ten in 2012, the report notes, as “the [then proposed changes to the] HOS rules brought heightened awareness to the dramatic shortage of safe and available parking.” 

The state of the nation’s economy, which first appeared on the ATRI’s list in 2008 and held the number one spot for three years in a row (2009-11), dropped to number nine on this year’s list. The 2014 list also has a first-time issue, Driver Distraction, which debuted in 10th place amid industry concern over the safety impacts of auto driver use of cell phones while driving.

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In addition to listing the challenges, the report also solicited and tabulated specific strategies for addressing each issue. Full results were unveiled at the 2014 Management Conference and Exhibition of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) meeting in San Diego, Calif.  

“ATRI’s annual survey of top industry issues gives us direct insight in to all of the complex forces affecting motor carriers and drivers so that we can plan accordingly, and focus on running a safe and profitable industry,” said ATA chairman Phil Byrd, President and CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express.

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