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Driver shortage again No. 1 concern — Taking the Hire Road

Unpacking latest industry data from American Transportation Research Institute

Image: FreightWaves

The American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) annual survey of the top industry issues found that the driver shortage was the No. 1 issue for the fifth year in a row. 

This didn’t surprise Rebecca Brewster, the president and COO of ATRI, who joined DriverReach founder and CEO Jeremy Reymer on this week’s episode of Taking the Hire Road to discuss the findings from the nonprofit’s latest research.

Brewster said it was interesting to see just how emphatically the industry voted the driver shortage as the No. 1 concern. In fact, it had four times as many first-place votes as any other issue.

Rounding out the top three were driver retention and driver compensation. Brewster noted that the top three issues were all workforce related. In addition, the industry did bring a few new things to the table, as she said that the shortage of diesel technicians took the 10th spot this year. 

“Not only do we rank how the overall industry has ranked the top 10 issues, but we break down what motor carrier personnel select as their top 10 issues versus how professional drivers ranked the top 10,” Brewster said, noting that this was an interesting year for drivers in that for the first time ever, driver compensation and the lack of available parking were tied for first place. Coming in second place was detention and delay at customer facilities.

What frustrated Brewster is that while the driver shortage and retention take the top spots on the motor carriers’ list, truck parking didn’t even make their list.

“Nowhere on the motor carrier top 10 does truck parking show up as a concern,” Brewster said. “But when it’s No. 1 for the drivers — and your No. 1 concern is finding or keeping drivers — you better also be concerned about things that are most impactful for your drivers.”

Brewster said that motor carriers should certainly not be expected to build new parking spaces, however, she challenges them to explore ways to make things easier for their drivers on the road. One thing she recommends is to instruct shipper customers to treat your drivers fairly, especially in instances where detention is in play. 

“If they are responsible for your driver being held up for an extraordinary amount of time at their location, they need to provide a safe haven for that driver,” she said.

Another thing that she recommends carriers do is to speak with local government leaders to see if there’s any private truck stop owners who are looking to expand or build facilities that are running into zoning roadblocks. Trying to ease those regulations could profoundly impact drivers’ well-being.

As a not-for-profit research organization, ATRI greatly relies on the financial support of industry stakeholders and charitable contributions to fund its research on finding ways to make the trucking industry more safe, secure and efficient.

“No contribution is too big, but no contribution is too small either,” Brewster said, encouraging the industry to visit this link to make a donation. “It means the world to us when we get a $25 check from a professional truck driver who just wants us to know that they value the research we do on behalf of the industry.”

About our sponsor

Netradyne creates solutions for real-world problems using computer vision and deep learning technologies. Its mission is to transform road and fleet safety through advanced vision technology to change the way drivers interact with the road around them, creating safer roadways in the process.

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Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.