Myth or Not, Driver Shortage Tops Annual List of Critical Trucking Issues

San Diego, CA – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has once again released its annual list of the top issues concerning trucking stakeholders and topping this year’s list for the third year in a row is the so-called driver shortage.

ATRI unveiled the findings of its annual survey at the American Trucking Associations (ATA) MC&E convention being held this year in San Diego, CA.

ATRI collected more than 2,000 surveys from industry stakeholders for this year’s top ten list.

A slight majority of the responses were from trucking companies (51%) while about 35% of the respondents were professional commercial truck drivers, according to ATRI.



Topping this year’s list of critical issues facing the industry was the so-called driver shortage.

It’s the third year in a row the controversial issue has come in at #1.

Fierce debate continues about the existence of a driver shortage.

Earlier this year, the ATA fired back at a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study that indicated the driver shortage is a myth.

Groups such as the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have long held that the driver shortage narrative is a myth pushed by larger carriers unwilling to address the underlying problems related to driver recruiting and retention such as insufficient wages, poor working conditions, and unfair treatment.

The latest estimates on the shortage from ATA are over 60,000 drivers are needed, with a potential shortfall of over 100,000 drivers over the next five years.

To address this, the ATA says it supports newly re-introduced legislation called the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE-Safe Act), which would effectively allow 18-year-olds to obtain a CDL and fully participate in interstate commerce.


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Coming in at #2 on the list is Hours of Service (HOS).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed changes to HOS rules that it says will provide greater flexibility for drivers and carriers.

For instance, the proposed rule includes flexibility in the sleeper berth provision that would allow drivers to split their off-duty time into an 8 and 2-hour, or 7 and 3-hour split, with neither period counting against the 14-hour driving window.


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For the first time in the history of ATRI’s survey, driver compensation has emerged as a top 10 issue, ranking third in 2019.

According to ATRI, respondents are concerned that driver compensation has not kept pace with inflation and that drivers are not compensated adequately for non-driving duties such as detention wait times.



Coming in at #4 is detention/driver delays at customers facilities.

ATRI says this is the first time this issue has made the top ten list.

In ATRI’s recent study quantifying detention impacts, drivers reported a 27.4% increase in delays of six or more hours between 2014 and 2018.


The lack of available truck parking ranks fifth in this year’s survey.

The truck parking issue continues to roil the industry as its negative impacts continue to worsen.

A plurality of survey respondents (40.3%) indicated that identifying strategic locations to expand truck parking capacity is their preferred strategy for addressing the pervasive shortage of truck parking.

In particular, re-opening shuttered parking facilities and investing in new facilities are targeted and effective strategies for alleviating the chronic and growing shortage of truck parking along the National Freight Network.



Rounding out the top ten issues are: driver retention, the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate, CSA, transportation infrastructure/congestion/funding, and the U.S. economy.

Other issues that almost made the list include: driver distraction, driver training standards, and insurance cost/availability.

To view the full findings from this year’s ATRI survey, click HERE.



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Comment (1)

  1. THERE IS NO DRIVER SHORTAGE!!!!!! There is a shortage of companies that are willing to pay for experienced driver’s because they haul cheap freight!!!! Any decent company that pays good and hauls good paying freight has no shortage of driver’s!!! When a company offers someone minimum wage and then treat drivers like they are just another number with no name and expect them to work like slaves for months at a time away from home for pennies then there is a obvious reason they have a shortage of driver’s!!!!!!! But the college educated morons that perform these study’s have no idea what they are talking about nor have any hands on real life experience in the trucking industry.


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