ATRI survey ranks HOS most ‘critical’ issue in trucking followed by CSA
“It’s not so much that the economy has fallen, it’s that the other three have risen above the economy,” Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick Transportation of North Little Rock, Ark., and ATRI chairman said. (The Trucker: CLIFF ABBOTT)
By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff
ORLANDO, Fla. — Alphabet soup once again reigned supreme at the top of the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top 10 “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry 2013” report which listed Hours of Service as the No. 1 issue and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) as No. 2.
The driver shortage ranked No. 3, and the economy, which for several years was atop the list before being replaced by CSA last year, ranked No. 4.
“It’s not so much that the economy has fallen, it’s that the other three have risen above the economy,” Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick Transportation of North Little Rock, Ark., and ATRI chairman, told reporters here. The occasion was a news conference at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition.
“We are still trying to figure out the implications of HOS, but we are not going to solve them overnight,” Williams said.
He said millions of dollars have been spent on trying to retain drivers and as for Maverick, “We have a lot of empty trucks.”
The Top 10 survey, which included responses from motor carriers and drivers alike, was taken just as the new HOS rule was being implemented last July, a regulation that trucking stakeholders predicted would cut productivity.
Asked if Maverick had assessed losses in productivity, Williams said his drivers had lost miles and were frustrated.
The new restriction on the use of the 34-hour restart had decreased home time for drivers, he said.
“Before the new rule, we were able to get 90 percent of our drivers home on the weekend, and now that has dropped to 80 percent,” Williams said.
A former chairman of the ATA, Williams also took exception to the required 30-minute break that has to be taken no more than eight hours after going on duty.
“Like I said when I testified before Congress earlier this year about the new rule, it’s not just 30 minutes of lost time,” he said, noting that by the time drivers had found a place to rest, gotten off and back on the road, as much as 60-75 minutes has elapsed.
ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster said current ongoing ATRI research about the new rule had changed the primary concern about the new regulation.
“When we took the survey as HOS was being implemented, the most widely expressed concern was about the required two consecutive 1 a.m.-to-5-a.m. rest periods required during any 34-hour restart. Now it is about only being able to take a restart once a week,” Brewster said.
The once-a-week restriction is costing drivers home time, she said.
Respondents to the survey released today listed three strategies for dealing with each of the 10 issues.
For HOS, the strategies included (1) quantifying the impacts of the 2013 HOS changes on industry operations, productivity and safety, (2) research and advocate for more innovative and flexibile strategies for fatigue management than prescriptive HOS rules and (3) advocate for increased flexibility in the current sleeper-berth provision.
HOS topped CSA as the top issue by a concern index of 100 to 69, a large margin in research, ATRI officials said, but CSA is still a significant concern. Two of the most significant areas of concern surrounding CSA are the lack of crash accountability in CSA scoring and the inability of CSA scores to accurately predict carrier safety performance.
The remaining six areas of concern in order of rank, were the electronic logging device mandate; truck parking; driver retention; fuel supply/fuel prices; infrastructure/congestion/funding; and driver health and wellness.
ATRI is the research arm of the ATA.
The full top 10 list follows:
1. Hours of Service
2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability)
3. Driver shortage
4. The economy
5. Electronic logging mandate
6. Truck parking
7. Driver retention
8. Fuel supply/prices
9. Transportation infrastructure/congestion/transportation funding
10. Driver health and wellness
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