Carriers are worrying most about the cost of fuel and the nation’s economy as it impacts the trucking industry, according to an American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) survey.
"The economy debuted on the trucking industry’s top issues list in 2008 as the second most important issue facing the industry," according to the report. "As diesel fuel prices rose to unprecedented levels, an already fragile US economy began to feel the impacts of inflationary pressures and declines in consumer optimism and manufacturing output. The mortgage crisis and resultant credit crunch further pushes the economy toward recession."
As for fuel costs, the report, commissioned by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), noted that in 2008, those costs replaced labor expenses as the top operating expense for most carriers.
ATRI surveyed more than 5,000 trucking industry executives, and solicited and tabulated strategies for addressing each issue.
“The annual ATRI survey proves invaluable in helping us chart a course of action for the future,” said ATA Chairman Charles “Shorty” Whittington, owner of Grammer Industries, Grammer IN, a tank truck carrier. "As ATA chairman I will work to see that the industry-identified strategies are implemented.”
Aside from fuel costs and the economy, other issues at the top of the concerned list include driver shortage and retention, government regulation, driver hours-of-service requirements, congestion, tolls, and highway funding, among others.
The report pointed out that government regulations have significantly increased the costs of trucking-related equipment. New engine emission standards are an example cited by industry as an unfunded government mandate resulting in increased equipment costs. Other examples of mandates that increase equipment costs are anti-idling regulations that force carriers to equip trucks with tractor cab heating/cooling devices to ensure drivers can rest comfortably without main engine idling.
ATA's proposed strategies for meeting the concerns are included in the report and can be seen online at truckline.com.