Driver shortage, ELD mandate puts pressure on US trucking industry

Drivers shortage and the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is giving the US trucking industry a hard time. A survey that was conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), revealed that these are the top-ranked issues facing the North American trucking industry. Fortunately, the out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD -that were previously set on December 18 - are delayed until April 2018, but in the end, both are resulting in an increase of freight costs.

Driver shortage
The ATRI conducted a survey to the most critical issues that are facing the North American trucking industry. The top ten issues were unveiled at the American Trucking Association’s Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla last October and for the first time since 2006, the driver shortage is the top-ranked issue.

According to the Truck Driver Shortage Analysis 2017 that was published by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) the driver shortage is really a problem for the entire supply chain as 70.6% of all freight tonnage is moved on the nation’s highways.

There seem to be several reasons for the driver shortage, but according to the report of the ATA, one of the largest factors is the relatively high average age of the existing workforce, followed by the low percentage of female truck drivers and the demand for qualified drivers. Due to this latter issue, the ATA expects that the driver shortage is probably much worse than figures suggest. "Many carriers, despite being short drivers, are highly selective in hiring drivers because they have made safety and professionalism high priorities."

Over the next decade, the ATA expects the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 898,000 new drivers, or an average of nearly 90,000 per year. Replacing retiring truck drivers will be by far the largest factor, accounting for nearly half of new driver hires (49%). The second largest factor will be industry growth, accounting for 28% of new driver hires.

ELD mandate
Next to the Driver shortage, the ELD mandate (a device that automatically records driving routes, miles and hours) is another major critical concern. Dropping one position from its top ranking last year in the ATRI survey, the ELD mandate ranked second on the overall list but was number one among commercial driver respondents to the survey.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) enforced the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate requirements on Dec. 18, 2017, but the out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD mandate will go into effect on April 1, 2018, CVSA announced. "Setting an April 1, 2018, effective date for applying the ELD OOSC will provide the motor carrier industry, shippers and the roadside enforcement community with time to adjust to the new requirement before vehicles are placed out of service for ELD violations."

However, horticultural producers might be an exempted as AmericanHort urged for a clear ELD agricultural exemption. The FMCSA, an agency within the Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry in the United States, granted a limited 90-day waiver exempting agricultural product transporters from the ELD mandate. On January 18, AmericanHort submitted official comments to the FMCSA advocating for nursery, greenhouse, and Christmas tree farmers to be explicitly included in the agricultural exemption from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate that went into effect on December 18, 2017.

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