2020 has become one of the most unpredictable years in human history. COVID-19 has made its changes in all business areas, including cargo transportation. However, this is not the only challenge that CMV drivers face in their work. They are also worried about truckers' pension problems, driver distraction, etc. Every year, the authorized bodies carry out an analysis of existing difficulties to improve the situation in the industry.
ATRI Reported on Top 10 Problems Truckers Face
ATRI (the American Transportation Research Institute) has prepared another report on the most common problems of drivers for the previous year. The survey was conducted from September 8 to October 16, 2020. During this period, research participants were offered a list of 29 existing problems, each of which they had to rate according to their importance. The result is the following top 10 trucking challenges:
1. Driver shortage. At the beginning of the year, the pandemic made its own adjustments and the amount of cargo transportation decreased significantly. However, the industry is now gradually returning to the pre-COVID-19 workload. It is worth noting that many drivers quit their jobs due to truckers' health problems that arose after the coronavirus.
2. Driver compensation. On the one hand, truckers' salaries have increased compared to previous years. However, many drivers feel they are not getting enough payment considering the lack of staff. Many have to work harder due to driver shortages.
3. Truck parking. This problem was first discussed in 2012 and since then it has consistently entered the top 10 most common problems. COVID-19 made it worse, as many public rest areas where you could park were closed due to the pandemic.
4. CSA. For some time, the question of Compliance, Safety, Accountability did not appear in the rating of problems but returned in 2020. Automobile carriers still have questions about the quality of data and the reliability of estimates, although this system is already more than 10 years old.
5. Insurance cost and its availability. The insurance cost per mile increased 18.3 percent over the past years. This fact causes many financial difficulties for fleets, namely small businesses. Some companies went out of the industry because of this reason.
6. Driver retention. It is closely connected with driver shortage as carriers can hardly retain their drivers. Mainly this happens because of COVID-19 influence and presence of other industry problems.
7. Tort reform. The issue returned to the list because of growing attention and concern
over truck crash litigation, nuclear verdicts, and criminal activity involving staged crashes.
8. Economy. The coronavirus disease caused economic fallout like during the Great Depression period. As far as the trucking industry is an essential part of the US economy, this issue could not stay unmentioned.
9. Detention and delay at customer areas. Such loss of time influences driver compensation, filling out the electronic logbook, and truck parking. This problem also appeared on the top 10 list in the previous year.
10. HOS. The time limits are mandatory for CMV drivers but bring much discomfort sometimes. In 2020 FMCSA revised 4 provisions of HOS rules to give drivers more flexibility. The Agency continues its work on transport law improvement.
Emerging Problems of Truckers
There are three other issues that took 11th, 12th, and 13th positions. ATRI considered them as emerging issues and worth attention. One of them is driver distraction. This is one of the main reasons for fatal crashes. The amount of distracted car drivers still rises.
Earlier another essential problem — transportation infrastructure and congestion — was included in the top 10. But COVID-19 has changed the situation as many logistic businesses were liquidated. However, some respondents still mention this issue.
COVID-19 is considered a separate and essential problem of the trucking industry because both large and small fleets were negatively influenced by the coronavirus. Also, the pandemic caused many health problems of truckers and even made them leave their jobs.
Cheap Freight as One of the Truckers Biggest Problems
Almost every American heard about one of such truckers union problems as cheap freight and broker transparency. In 2020 truckers' Mayday protest took place near the White House to put a spotlight on trucking industry issues. The event got the attention of the authorities. The representatives of truckers were invited to the Capitol. The protesters wanted truck drivers to be aware of the details of the transactions they are involved in. Because if only shippers and brokers know all the deal conditions, there is a possibility of gouging.