Truckers Concerned by Economy, Pending Regulations

Truckers Concerned by Economy, Pending Regulations

The sluggish pace of economic recovery tops truckers’ long list of critical issues despite four straight quarters of economic growth and a strong surge in freight demand this year, the American Transportation Research Institute reports.

In a survey of more than 4,000 trucking executives, ATRI found the economy was still their number one concern in 2010, though fewer truckers ranked it as the leading issue -- 35.7 percent compared with 51.6 percent a year ago.

“This decrease likely reflects the improvements experienced in the economy over the past year and speaks to the impact (of) increasing freight demand,” said ATRI, the research affiliate of the American Trucking Associations.

By The Numbers: Cass Freight Index.

The association and carriers will use ATRI’s survey results to advocate changes in economic policy, federal rulemakings and motor carrier practices.

ATRI recommends strategies from engaging policymakers and lawmakers to evaluating the competitiveness of driver pay and finding new ways to cut fuel use.

ATRI released its 2010 report on critical issues in the trucking industry Monday at the annual ATA management conference in Phoenix.

After the economy, the three leading concerns all involved the government, topped by the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative being rolled out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to improve highway safety.

Trucking executives fear CSA 2010 will make it harder to find and hire qualified drivers and 25.2 percent of the executives said it was their leading concern.

Government regulation, in general, slipped to third place, followed by hours-of-service rules, also FMCSA regulations in fourth place. The FMCSA is expected to release new, potentially more restrictive, hours of service rules by year’s end.

A “driver shortage” that could be exacerbated by CSA 2010 and tighter HOS rules ranked fifth among carrier executives’ top 10 concerns.

“A host of local, state and federal regulations are increasingly imposed on the industry, increasing compliance costs with little to no commensurate return, in some cases, for safety or productivity,” ATRI said.

Altogether, 45 percent of the trucking executives surveyed listed some form of regulation as their biggest concern, topping even the economy.

After the driver shortage, the biggest concerns listed by truckers were fuel issues, transportation funding and infrastructure, onboard truck technology such as electronic onboard recorders, environmental issues and truck size and weight.

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.