The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) unveiled their much anticipated annual Top Industry Issues late last month. While the headlines focused on the familiar carrier concerns of the driver shortage, driver retention, and driver compensation, we at STC would like to dive a little deeper and focus on concerns that both drivers and motor carriers share.

ATRI calculates ranks top issues based on a survey asking respondents to choose and rank their top three concerns from a list of 30 choices. This year’s survey collected the opinions of over 2,500 industry stakeholders, 52% of which were motor carrier personnel and 24% were drivers, meaning motor carrier opinions tend to carry the day. Fortunately, ATRI also reports drivers’ responses separately, allowing insight into issues both carriers and drivers care about. This year, however, there is a very interesting overlap: driver compensation.

For drivers, driver compensation ranked as the number one concern. For motor carries, driver compensation was the fifth most important concern. Obviously, they’re each coming at this from very different perspectives. Drivers are demanding higher pay, while motor carriers are anxious about the ballooning cost of drivers.

In the midst of an exploding driver shortage, experienced operators find themselves with added leverage at the negotiating table. At the top of their list of asks is a better quality of life via higher compensation, better parking options, and shorter delays at customer facilities. While some argue that the key to driver shortage is paying drivers more, the real answers likely lie in focusing on the litany of issues drivers care about most. While many of drivers’ top issues are challenging to solve, with the current state of the broken supply chain becoming a concern to all Americans, carriers have more leverage than ever.

While Congress just voted to support a major infrastructure bill, we should still be working hard to meet drivers’ ever-growing list of needs. So, how can we help? Here are the top ten drivers issues in rank order (bolded and italicized carriers also had in their top ten).

  1. Driver Compensation and truck parking
  2. Detention
  3. Fuel Prices
  4. Driver training standards
  5. Hours of service rules
  6. ELD mandate
  7. Driver distraction
  8. Infrastructure/congestion
  9. Speed limiters
  10. Compliance, Safety Accountability