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Pay, parking lead drivers' list of issues, but survey is topped by the economy


David Hollis (TN)
Updated Feb 20, 2024

It has been a difficult year for the U.S. trucking industry, and that is reflected in the results of a major annual survey of major concerns.

The economy was ranked the top issue of concern in the "Critical Issues In the Trucking Industry - 2023", the survey compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute and announced at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition, which concludes today in Austin, Texas.

"This year has been one of economic challenges for the trucking industry and all Americans," said the introduction of the 19th annual survey. "High inflation drove up costs for consumers and producers alike, yet rising interest rates raised both borrowing rates and the cost of capital. Meanwhile, pricing in all trucking sectors fell steadily over the year, hampered by soft performance in key industries including a poor produce season, generally flat housing and manufacturing output, and retail sales that were outpaced by inflation as retailers remained overstocked. The total number of jobs in the industry began to fall over the summer for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the number of registered carriers remained nearly flat after years of growth." 

The current survey marks the first time the economy was ranked as the number one issue of concern, up from the fifth spot in 2022. The economy was not even in the top 10 in the 2021 survey. In 2020 it ranked eighth, and in 2019 and 2018 it was ranked 10th.

The overall ranking of the most important issues included:

1.The economy
2.Truck parking
3.Fuel prices
4.Driver shortage
5.Driver compensation
6.Lawsuit abuse/reform
7.Driver distraction
8.Driver retention
10.Zero emissions vehicles

Here's how drivers rated their issues of concern:

1.Driver compensation
2.Truck parking
3.Fuel prices
4.Speed limiters
6.Driver training standards
7.The economy
8.Broker issues
9.ELD mandate
10.Autonomous trucks

Last year, driver compensation was third on the list of drivers' concerns, while truck parking was the number one issue.

 There was a difference of opinion between company drivers and owner-operators as to what were their top concerns.

Company drivers ranked their top three issues as 1.) Driver compensation 2.) Truck parking and 3.) Speed limiters. Owner-operators' top three issues were 1.) Fuel prices 2.) Speed limiters and 3.) Truck parking.

Respondents representing motor carrier executives and personnel ranked the issues:

1.The economy
2.Driver shortage
3.Lawsuit abuse/reform
4.Driver retention
5.Fuel prices
6.Insurance costs/availability
7.Zero emission vehicles
8.Truck parking
9.Diesel technician shortage
10.Driver distraction

ATRI said over 4,000 industry stakeholders across North America weighed in with their opinions on the most important issues affecting the trucking industry and the broader supply chain.

The 2023 respondents represented motor carrier executives and personnel (47.8%), professional truck drivers (29%) and other industry stakeholders (23.2%), including industry suppliers, driver trainers, and law enforcement.

For the first time this year, motor carrier enforcement personnel represented nearly 5% of respondents. Their top three concerns were 1.) Driver distraction 2.) Hours of service and 3.) Driver training standards.