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Top 3 Trucking Industry Concerns According To The ATRI

Every year, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) releases an annual report that details the most critical concerns within the trucking industry. This year's report was recently released amid a myriad of changes to federal regulations and requirements, which have dominated semi-truck industry news headlines all year. Not surprisingly, the number one issue trucking professionals cite as a concern is the ELD mandate, followed closely by HOS rulings and in third place, the economic impacts of regulations on the industry.

ELD Mandate

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the final rule on electronic logging devices (ELDs) on December 10, 2015. The mandate requires all commercial drivers who are required to track their hours of service (HOS) to discontinue using paper logs and begin using ELDs by December 2017. While some industry professionals agree with the mandate, the day after the ruling was officially published, the Owner-Operator Independent Driver's Association (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit to stop the rule. Concerns about privacy, and how the information tracked by the ELDs are among the top concerns. In addition, some believe that the devices will actually hurt productivity for drivers and trucking companies. Incidentally, the ELD mandate ranked at number six on the list in 2015 and shot to the top of the list this year.

HOS Confusion

In second place for concerns for the trucking industry is the HOS rules, or more specifically, the 34-hour restart rule. The restart provisions were first implemented in July of 2013, and have had significant impacts on the trucking industry. As far back as 2013, at least 80 percent of carriers said they experienced a loss of productivity and that driver's pay was negatively impacted. Uncertainty was brought to the forefront again in December of 2015 when the Omnibus appropriations bill inadvertently included language that threatened to suspend the restart provision. The FMSCA is currently undertaking a second field study, mandated by Congress, before a final ruling with regards to the hours of service restart's usefulness and validity.

Regulation Impacts

While the economic impacts of regulation have long been a concern for trucking companies, this year is the first time such concerns have made it into the survey. Trucking professionals across the industry are concerned that over regulation will cause undo economic stress on them, and ultimately hurt drivers and the economy as a whole. New rules such as the ELD mandate, speed limiters and HOS changes all have a direct impact on the productivity and profitability of trucking companies. Likewise, fears that vehicle prices and costs will increase due to Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions rules, keep trucking pros up at night. It remains to be seen if any of these concerns and fears will result in damage to the industry, or if they are simply growing pains.

Rounding out the top five concerns for trucking industry this year are the availability of safe, legal truck parking, and a stagnant economy. To learn more about the study, or to read the full report, which details the top 10 concerns within the industry, download, or view the PDF file. While there will always be some areas of concern for the industry, this year's study is a sign of change. There is no doubt, however, that the industry will continue to carry on, even through these uncertain times.