Economy, Trucking Industry's No. 1 Concern


The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) presented a top 10 list of issues of concern to the trucking industry during the American Trucking Associations 2010 Management Conference held October 16-19 in PhoenixAZ. The list of concerns include the sluggish economy – which is at number one, followed by CSA 2010 among others.

As was the condition in 2009, the state of the nationÂâ€Ã¢„¢s economy was the number one concern for the truck fleets that took part in this yearÂâ€Ã¢„¢s ATRI survey. Nearly 35% of them ranked this as top issue in 2010, but that was an indicative decrease from 51.6% in 2009. According to ATRI officials, this reduction doubtlessly reflects changes experienced in the US economy over the past year and the effect increasing freight capacity are having on fleets.

CSA 2010 made its debut in the ATRI survey. With over one-fourth of respondents ranking this as the top issue, CSA 2010 bagged its spot owing it to the broad nature of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety AdministrationÂâ€Ã¢„¢s (FMCSAÂâ€Ã¢„¢s) new regulatory framework but also due to the ambiguous impact CSA 2010 will have on carriers and drivers.

Coming in on third – which actually was the second placer prior to the 2010 survey – is the government regulation. According to ATRI, the enduring high ranking of government regulation is in huge part by reason of legislative activities, both national and local levels. The trucking industry stakeholders acknowledge as damaging to industry operations and finance.

Rules regulating truck driver hours of service (HOS) went up to fourth from being fifth. In 2007, HOS came to a head as the number one issue proximately after a court order placed the rules in trouble. Later in the year, concerns about possible alterations in the rules sent the issue back in the top half of the survey. About 40% of participants placed HOS in the first, second, or third most significant issue.

The driver shortage returned on the list and it landed at number five. This is so far an additional hint that the economy is bouncing back. It may also indicate new safe-driver hiring challenges akin to CSA 2010 and other new federal regulations.

Fuel price unpredictablility has meant wide dissimilarityin the way the issue is ranked each year in ATRIÂâ€Ã¢„¢s survey. Fuel price came as the top issue in 2005 and 2008, but fell to third place in 2009 and went down further three spots in this yearÂâ€Ã¢„¢s survey. With the global economic crunch decreasing overall demand for fuel, costs remain comparably low, but participants are still worried about fuel as a lasting affair.

Transportation funding/infrastructure, which is ranked at number 7, was a mixture of issues this year, combining elements of highway crowding, infrastructure, and transportation financing. Continuous over crowding that affects degrading highway infrastructure and absence of motion on highway re-authorization by Congress united to maintain this issue in the Top 10.

After its debut in 2007 as a Top 10 issue and continuously remain in the 10th spot each year since, on-board truck technology made its way up this year to number eight. The principal motivation seems to be the fixation by both the US and Canadian governments on authorized use of electronic on-board recorders for HOS observance and speed limiters/governors for speed management.

Issues regarding the environment dropped to ninth place this year. It attained the lowest rank since 2007. Economy and CSA 2010, an more troubling issue, clearly defeated environmental interests. According to ATRI officials they expect environmental issues will spring back to the limelight as regulations are suggested to decrease greenhouse gases and other engine emissions.

Size-and-weight ranked as a Top 10 issue for the second time. More fleets are considering bigger tractors as a means to answering highway congestion, environmental issues, and the looming driver shortage.

Here is a rundown of the complete list:

1. Economy

2. CSA 2010

3. Government regulation

4. Hours of service

5. Driver shortage

6. Fuel issues

7. Transportation funding/infrastructure

8. Onboard truck technology (this moved up from last year's number 10 spot)

9. Environmental issues

10. Truck size and weight (this was new to the top 10 list last year, debuting at number nine.