The trucking industry, while mainly composed of small and medium-sized businesses, is one of the biggest industries in the United States. According to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) American Trucking Trends 2017 report, trucking generated $676.2 billion in 2016, which is 79.8% of the nation’s entire freight bill. However, while the trucking industry moves billions of dollars of goods across the country each year, many trucking company owners face a myriad of challenges that can prevent their companies from meeting their full potential.
Here are some of the most common challenges faced by today’s trucking company owners:
It’s no secret that the roads and bridges in the United States are in dire need of improvement. U.S. roads received a D rating on the most recent infrastructure report card, and bridges in the country did only slightly better, receiving a C plus. The report also found that sub-par road conditions have led to 6.9 billion hours of traffic delays in one year, or 42 hours per driver, and billions of gallons of fuel. Since most trucking jobs are based on distance rather than time or fuel cost, these delays can prove costly for trucking companies.
Poor roads and bridges can also cause damage to the vehicles that drive on them. According to the infrastructure report card findings, 21% of the nation’s roadways are in poor condition. This contributes to over $121 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, and is also said to lead to an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities.
Increasingly Tough Regulations
While the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding the trucking industry are ultimately in place to make things safer, keeping up-to-date with them and abiding by them can be challenging, especially for smaller trucking companies.
For example, when it comes to tracking time, federal regulations require drivers to keep track of four different timers: One that limits a truck driver to working no more than 70 hours in an eight-day period; another that limits the length of a driver’s workday to 14 consecutive hours; a third that limits a driver to driving no more than 11 hours within their 14 hour workday; and a final one that requires a driver to take a 30-minute break at least every eight hours.
To make logging time more efficient, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a mandate requiring the use of Electronic Logging Devices. For companies that were not already using these devices, the initial challenge was in paying for this new equipment. However, controlling the equipment and ensuring it does not interfere with drivers’ operation of their vehicles is a challenge as well.
The Driver Shortage
Another big challenge for trucking company owners is the lack of retention of drivers. The American Trucking Association (ATA), estimates that the trucking industry is currently short approximately 30,000 to 35,000 drivers, and expects that this shortage may increase to as many as 245,000 drivers by 2022. One of the most influential factors in this driver shortage is the fact that long haul trucking jobs have considerable lower pay than other trucking jobs. Another serious issues is that federal regulations require drivers to be at least 21 to carry the type of license needed for this line of work, leaving a three-year gap between high school graduation that draws potential drivers away into other industries.
Overcoming Trucking Industry Challenges
The trucking industry is strong and resilient, and is expected to overcome these challenges. One way trucking company owners can protect their investment is through the right trucking liability insurance programs. Insurance agents, wholesalers and trucking firms should work together to encourage safety, growth and profitability in the industry, and make today’s challenges a thing of the past.
About American Team Managers Insurance Services
Founded in 1998 by Chris C. Michaels, American Team Managers Insurance Services (ATM) has provided wholesale and MGA services to more than 5,000 independent insurance agents throughout the United States. Our goal is to establish close, long-term relationships with our agency partners and insurance carriers and provide competitive products for the Exclusive and Non-Exclusive markets that we serve. For more information on our products and services, give us a call at (714) 414-1200 to speak to a representative.