Dollars & Sense

Fuel Prices are Top Industry Concern

By Brandon Baxter - Staff Writer
Posted Nov 2nd 2022 3:21PM

The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Management Conference and Exhibition recently took place in San Diego, California and a very key discussion revolved around the 18th annual Top Industry Issues report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

Top Industry Concerns

Aside from the growing concern over fuel prices, industry-wide, other issues that hit the highwater mark in transportation continue to revolve around the driver shortage, driver pay, truck parking and the proposed use of speed limiters.

What had been the number one concern over the past five years, the driver shortage was usurped by the growing headaches that revolve around the price of fuel. The last time fuel costs made it into the top 10 of industry concerns was in 2013 when it ranked eighth, but the record-high cost of diesel pole vaulted the issue to the industry’s forefront.

The driver shortage continues to remain a top concern for the industry, due mainly to the estimated lack of about 80,000 drivers. The fear is that that number could double by 2030. Main factors that tend to contribute to such a shortage are retiring drivers, a challenging lifestyle, and pressures from federal regulation. Drivers are leaving, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to pump new blood into the industry.

The lack of appropriate truck parking has been a top-five issue in the ATRI survey for seven years. However, drivers surveyed ranked it as their number one concern for the third consecutive year. Poor parking options and conditions can be tied to driver recruitment and retention problems, plus making it more difficult to recruit women into the profession.

Other Major Concerns

Driver compensation and driver retention tend to go hand-in-hand. In this case, driver pay remained in the top five. Fleets have been turning to pay increases as a way of recruiting and retaining drivers, and this has been ongoing since the increase in post-pandemic freight demands. Driver wages have shown an increase of 9.8% over the previous year, this research brought about by the 2022 Operational Costs of Trucking report.

Driver retention, overall, dropped from the second most concerning issue in 2021 to the seventh in 2022. According to the same ATRI 2022 Operational Costs of Trucking report, average annual bonuses were up 26% over four years, while retention bonuses were up 57% over the same time period. Fleets seem to be getting the hint that it’s better to keep who you have, rather than having to constantly replace them.

Tune into the next, fourth, episode of the “State of the Industry Podcast, with John Elliott” as he will be bringing forth more information from the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition. John is the current chairman of the TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) and is someone who has routinely kept his finger on the pulse of the trucking industry.