Fuel Prices Overtake Driver Shortage as Most Critical Industry Issue - Fleet Management

Gasoline Costs Overtake Driver Scarcity as Most Crucial Trade Challenge – Fleet Administration

This graph represents the distribution of business concern prioritization scores.

Graph: ATRI

Gasoline costs have been unsurprisingly the highest trucking concern on this yr’s High Trade Points survey by the American Transportation Analysis Institute, however for the primary time, pace limiters made it onto the highest 10 listing.

It was the 18th such report from ATRI, the not-for-profit analysis group arm of the American Trucking Associations. In an Oct. 22 “Nice Reveal” session throughout the ATA’s Administration Convention and Exhibition in San Diego, a panel mentioned these points and others. 

“ATRI’s listing is a real reflection of what it was prefer to be a trucker this yr,” stated ATA Chairman Harold A. Sumerford Jr. “Excessive gasoline costs and discovering drivers have been two of our business’s greatest challenges – challenges made tougher by the economic system and the continued lack of truck parking. Fortunately, ATRI doesn’t simply inform us what the problems are, it supplies a variety of doable options that call makers can use to handle them.” 

In a yr that noticed record-high gasoline prices, gasoline costs have been ranked as the highest business concern, changing the driving force scarcity, which had been the primary concern for 5 years in a row. 

With the discharge earlier this yr of the Federal Motor Provider Security Administration’s Discover of Intent to enter right into a pace limiter rulemaking in 2023, pace limiters ranked within the high 10 this yr for the primary time, coming in ninth total and fifth amongst business driver respondents. 

The first section of the Top Industry Issues report details the results of the overall industry survey of industry stakeholders including employee drivers and owner operators, motor carrier executives, and other trucking industry stakeholders.  -  Graph: ATRI

The primary part of the High Trade Points report particulars the outcomes of the general business survey of business stakeholders together with worker drivers and proprietor operators, motor provider executives, and different trucking business stakeholders.

Graph: ATRI

Greater than 47% of the survey respondents have been skilled truck drivers and 39% have been motor provider executives. “A number of the write-ins have been very colourful,” stated ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster, indicating the robust emotions shared by many respondents

Amongst driver respondents, the highest three considerations have been:

  1. Truck parking
  2. Gasoline costs
  3. Driver compensation

For motor carriers, the highest three considerations have been:

  1. Driver scarcity
  2. Driver retention
  3. Gasoline Costs

Greater than 4,200 trucking business stakeholders participated on this yr’s survey, together with motor carriers, truck drivers, business suppliers, driver trainers, regulation enforcement, and others. 

“This yr’s survey had the best variety of responses to this point, exhibiting how dedicated our business is to figuring out probably the most important considerations and extra importantly, determining how we collectively cope with every concern,” Brewster stated.

1. Gasoline Costs

The final time gasoline costs have been on ATRI’s critical-issues listing was in 2013 at quantity 8.

“From 2020-21, we noticed a few 15% improve, then a few 63% improve from 21-22, so I’m not shocked it reveals up at primary, particularly when you’ve loads of impartial drivers taking the survey,” stated Dennis Dellinger, president and CEO of Cargo Transporters Inc., on the panel dialogue. He famous that bigger carriers are in a position to assist maintain gasoline prices down by way of buying bulk gasoline and working a very good gasoline surcharge program, that are issues owner-operators and smaller fleets can’t.

Respondents by a slender margin selected as the highest doable technique for the business to advocate for federal actions that assist stabilize the availability of gasoline and decrease value volatility, adopted by researching potential components which may be affecting gasoline availability and pricing volatility.

2. Driver Scarcity

After 5 years as primary, the driving force scarcity is down one spot,” Brewster stated, “however I don’t suppose this implies the scarcity has gotten any much less unhealthy.”

In keeping with the American Trucking Associations, the business’s present scarcity of over 80,000 truck drivers may develop to over 160,000 by 2030.

Dellinger identified that it’s hardly a brand new concern; he remembers a gathering within the late ‘80s the place executives have been asking why they spent a lot time speaking about drivers. “My complete profession has been speaking in regards to the driver scarcity and the way it impacts our skill to develop,” he stated.

The highest technique to handle this as an business was to help outreach initiatives focusing on highschool college students and younger adults. Knowledge from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that 30% of the business’s driver workforce is over 55 years of age. Confronted with this getting older workforce and the accompanying tempo of driver retirements, 39% of respondents imagine the business’s greatest technique for decreasing the driving force scarcity is to focus recruitment efforts on youthful adults.

3. Truck Parking

“A perennial high 5 concern since 2015, that is the third yr it’s the primary concern for skilled truck drivers,” Brewster stated. But it surely was the quantity 10 concern for motor carriers.

“It makes me marvel, are we as trucking leaders out of contact with our drivers?” Dellinger requested. “Are we doing every little thing we have to be? If not, we have to seize ahold of it and run with this.”

Brewster famous “truck parking hasn’t even been on the highest 10 listing for a number of years, so I used to be glad to see it within the listing. You’d higher care about what drivers say their high points are.”

The dearth of accessible parking has been tied to driver recruitment and retention points in addition to efforts to draw extra ladies to the occupation. The truck parking concern is now gaining traction with federal leaders, together with a latest announcement from the U.S. Division of Transportation awarding practically $40 million in grants to Florida and Tennessee to broaden truck parking capability. The highest proposed technique was to encourage native and regional governments to cut back the regulatory burdens limiting the development and enlargement of truck parking amenities.

4. Driver Compensation

Since first showing on the High 10 listing in 2019 within the quantity three spot, driver compensation has remained within the high 5. Pushed by post-pandemic freight demand and the rising driver scarcity, fleets have more and more turned to pay will increase as a method to recruit and retain the very best drivers. Knowledge from ATRI’s 2022 Operational Prices of Trucking analysis confirmed that driver wages elevated 9.8% over the earlier yr, with the driving force wage determine ($0.809 per mile) attaining a document excessive for the reason that Operational Prices analysis first launched in 2008.

The preferred proposed technique was to research truck driver compensation in relation to different competing employment sectors, equivalent to development.

5. The Financial system

In 2008, within the midst of the Nice Recession, gasoline prices and the economic system have been the highest two business considerations. The economic system continued because the primary concern for 3 extra years, after which it began to drop in rating and ultimately fell out of the highest 10 in 2017. This yr, with skyrocketing inflation, gear and elements shortages, record-high diesel costs, and continued wage pressures, the economic system is again because the fifth ranked business concern.

The highest proposed technique was to advertise reforming / repealing ineffective and burdensome rules that add to business prices with out offering advantages.

6. Detention / Delay at Buyer Amenities

Now in its fourth yr as a High 10 business concern, detention is up one spot to quantity six total. Like most of the points on the High 10 listing, Detention / Delay intersects with many different points. It’s difficult to recruit and retain truck drivers once they know that detention will cut back their pay as a result of misplaced hours spent ready at buyer amenities. Typically truck drivers do not need entry to necessary facilities like ingesting water or restrooms. They could count on secure parking on the buyer’s facility as a result of delay, solely to be informed to go away and search for parking elsewhere. It’s not stunning, then, that this concern persistently ranks as a high concern amongst drivers.

The highest technique recognized was to establish greatest practices, applied sciences, and methods that cut back or get rid of driver detention at shipper / receiver amenities.

7. Driver Retention

Driver retention dropped from a second place rating in 2021.

“Many within the business imagine that the driving force scarcity, driver compensation, and driver retention are all inextricably linked and due to this fact difficult to separate into particular person rankings,” ATRI stated in its report. “Nonetheless, the ATRI High Trade Points Survey retains these as three separate points as a result of the methods for addressing every are distinct.

The highest technique was to analysis and prioritize retention methods, primarily based on driver suggestions and driver tenure information.

8: Compliance, Security, Accountability (CSA)

CSA, FMCSA’s security measurement system continues as a perennial High 10 concern.

The 2015 Fixing America’s Floor Transportation (FAST) Act included a requirement for a Nationwide Academies’ evaluate of CSA. The ensuing report was issued in 2017 and included a variety of suggestions for bettering CSA scoring to raised replicate a provider’s danger profile. Nonetheless, 5 years later, FMCSA has but to implement the really useful Merchandise Response Idea (IRT) strategy, ATRI famous, and provider frustration with how their security efficiency is evaluated by CSA persists.

So it’s unsurprising that the preferred proposed technique was to work with FMCSA to replace its provider prioritization methodology, enhance its accuracy, and improve transparency in CSA. ATRI famous that the FMCSA now has a Senate-confirmed Administrator for the primary time in three years, and this may increasingly present a chance for the business to work with FMCSA to replace its provider prioritization methodology, utilizing IRT or another methodology.

9. Velocity limiters

That is the primary time the difficulty of pace limiters has been within the total high 10 listing, however it has been within the drivers’ high 10 for a number of years, Brewster stated.

Earlier this yr, FMCSA issued a Discover of Intent to maneuver ahead with a pace limiter rulemaking in 2023, which generated greater than 14,500 feedback to the Federal Register discover,

Amongst drivers, pace limiters have been their fifth total high concern.

The highest urged technique was to quantify the affect of car-truck pace differentials on business security and productiveness. A plurality of respondents (40.8%) believes that understanding the affect of car-truck pace differentials is a important technique in addressing a possible pace limiter rulemaking. Joint analysis by ATRI and a College of Arkansas professor documented that pace differentials can improve automobile interactions and result in larger potential for crashes. Feedback to the NOI spotlight the truth that pace differentials proceed to be a giant concern for motor carriers and drivers, and that the shortage of present analysis on pace differential impacts is a significant roadblock in implementing any future rulemaking.

10. Lawsuit Abuse Reform

For the third yr in a row, Lawsuit Abuse Reform, beforehand termed “Tort Reform,” is a High 10 concern Nonetheless, it dropped six locations this yr to rank tenth total.

 ATRI analysis has quantified the detrimental affect of extreme litigation on the business’s insurance coverage prices,  and this yr motor provider respondents ranked Lawsuit Abuse Reform and Insurance coverage Price / Availability as their sixth and seventh high considerations, respectively, Continued state-level advocacy is leading to legislative wins for the trucking business, in response to ATRI.

The highest urged technique was to advocate for elimination of “phantom” damages. Phantom damages are the delta between medical prices {that a} defendant is billed for versus the precise medical prices paid. These inflated quantities can create a non-compensatory windfall for the plaintiff and plaintiff’s legal professional.

Rising Points within the Trucking Trade

As a part of its evaluation of important business points, ATRI additionally tracks the rising matters that generate vital business curiosity however fall simply exterior of the High 10 considerations. These have been:

  • Insurance coverage value and availability (which practically tied with lawsuit abuse reform)
  • Hours-of-service guidelines
  • Driver coaching requirements.

The entire report could be downloaded at ATRI’s web site

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