Sluggish economy, impending CSA 2010 top list of concerns

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research institute, unveiled its list of the top ten critical issues facing the North American trucking industry at the2010 Management Conference and Exhibition of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) meeting in Phoenix.

The event is the nation’s largest gathering of motor carrier executives.

The ATRI report, “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry - 2010,” also solicited and tabulated specific strategies for addressing each issue.

The state of the economy tops the list in ATRI’s survey of more than 4,000 trucking industry executives. It was the top concern in the 2009 study as well.

The Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new regulatory framework for evaluating carrier and driver safety, debuted on the list in a close second to the economy this year.

Government regulation, which was the second most pressing issue last year, remained near the top of the list at spot number three.

Rules regulating commercial driver Hours-of-Service (HOS) climbed one spot after taking the fifth spot in 2009 and 2008.

The driver shortage returned to the top ten list this year as well, ranking fifth, in a sign that carriers have a growing concern over finding enough drivers to meet increased freight demand as the economy rebounds, ATRI said. I

The volatility of fuel prices has caused the ranking of fuel issues to vary widely over the past few years, reported ATRI. Fuel issues ranked first in 2005 and again in 2008, but dropped to third in 2009. This year, the issue has fallen even to the sixth spot.

In seventh place, as a hybrid issue in this year’s study - combining elements of highway congestion, infrastructure and transportation funding - was transportation funding and infrastructure.

In 2009, congestion was the fourth most pressing issue, and transportation funding ranked eighth overall.

After first surfacing in 2007 as a top 10 issue and remaining in the tenth place spot each year since, onboard truck technology climbed two spots this year to eighth place.

Environmental issues retreated two spots to ninth this year, attaining its lowest ranking since 2007.

For only the second time, truck size and weight ranked as a top ten industry issue in tenth place.

The ATA-commissioned survey results and proposed strategies will be utilized by the ATA Federation to better focus its advocacy role on behalf of the U.S. trucking industry and ATA Federation stakeholders.

“ATRI’s annual survey gives us a clear roadmap of the strategies we collectively need to pursue as an industry,” said ATA Chairman Tommy Hodges (Titan Transfer, Shelbyville, TN).

“It is vital for the trucking industry to stay abreast of the issues and policies that have a profound impact on how we move America’s freight safely and efficiently, said Bill Graves, ATA President and CEO. “Not only must we be prepared to support initiatives that are based on well-founded research and thought, but we must also be ready to vigorously debate initiatives which lack research and practicality.”

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 www.atri-online.org.

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