Driver shortage ranks No. 1 in ATRI trucking industry issues survey

Among the recommended strategies for solving the driver shortage is to identify unique requirements and issues associated with expanded drivers recruitment of women and minorities. (The Trucker file photo)

SAN DIEGO — For the third year in a row, the driver shortage is the top-ranked issue in the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual Top Industry Issues report, which includes the list of the top 10 critical issues facing the North American trucking industry.

The Hours of Service rules held on to the No. 2 issue in the survey for a second consecutive year, reflecting the industry’s call for additional flexibility in the rules, particularly the sleeper berth provision, ATRI officials said.

The issues are ranked based on the collective answers to a recent open survey of drivers, motor carrier executives and other trucking industry stakeholders.

There is a separate list broken out by drivers and motor carriers. Ironically, Driver Shortage was not ranked among the top 10 by professional truck drivers.

Two new issues appeared on this year’s list for the first time ever, ones that also impact the industry’s ability to recruit and retain qualified drivers: Driver Compensation and Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities. Driver Compensation ranked third overall and represents two sides to a complex issue — motor carriers who have raised driver pay significantly over the past year in response to the driver shortage and drivers who are concerned that their pay has not kept pace with inflation.

Driver detention at customer facilities, making its debut at No. 4 on this year’s list, reflects growing concern over excessive delays that create cascading impacts for drivers’ HOS compliance, compensation, and ability to find safe, available truck parking.

The lack of available truck parking rounds out the top five issues on this year’s list but ranks third among commercial driver respondents after compensation and HOS rules.

The other issues making the collective list include:

  1. Driver retention.
  2. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate.
  3. CSA
  4. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  5. Economy

The top 10 issues as ranked by commercial drivers includes:

  1. Driver Compensation
  2. Hours of Service
  3. Truck Parking
  4. ELD Mandate
  5. Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities
  6. Speed limiters
  7. Driver Training Standards
  8. Driver Distraction
  9. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  10. Autonomous Truck Technology

The top 10 issues as ranked by motor carriers includes:

  1. Driver Shortage
  2. Driver Retention
  3. Hours of Service
  4. CSA
  5. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  6. Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities
  7. Economy
  8. ELD Mandate
  9. Insurance Cost/Availability
  10. Tort Reform

The complete results of the annual survey, which generated more than 2,000 responses from motor carriers and commercial drivers, were released Sunday at the 2019 American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition here. Now in its 15th year, the ATRI Top Industry Issues report also includes prioritized strategies for addressing each issue.

“While 2018 was an incredible year for trucking, we’ve seen some challenges in 2019 and certainly finding and retaining qualified drivers remains at the top of the list for our industry, said Barry Pottle, ATA chairman and president and CEO of Pottle’s Transportation. “ATRI’s analysis reveals the interconnectedness of these top issues and provides a roadmap for how motor carriers and professional drivers believe we should move forward as an industry.”

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

A copy of the survey results is available from ATRI at




  1. There is no driver shortage! What you have is a turnover problem. Treat people right and pay them right and your problems will just magically disappear.


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