With so many things happening in the trucking industry, it can be tough to keep track of all the important trends, news, and regulation changes. With that in mind, we’ve put together five of the most important recent industry-related news and takeaways.
If you haven’t been reading about how the trucking industry landscape has been changing lately, then you need to read this article.
1. Historically Low Trucker Churn Rate Despite Rise in First Quarter
According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), there was an increase in driver turnover rates in the first quarter of 2017.
Bob Costello, ATA’s Chief Economist, believes this increase to be because of “tightening” in the truck driver market. He believes that the churn rate would accelerate if the freight economy would spike.
Despite the increase, however, turnover rates have remained at historically low levels.
Fleets with annual revenues above $30 million still have their churn rates at 74%. The value is 15 points lower than last year’s percentage.
For small fleets, the turnover rates are at 66% — 22 units lower than last year’s score at this time.
2. The FMCSA Proposes Two Rules to Address Driver Shortage
Despite the low churn rates, US Department of Transportation still recognizes an ongoing driver labor shortage in the country. To address this, the FMCSA recently proposed two rules to tackle the “natural shortage of truck drivers.”
The first rule allows licensing agencies to waive the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) knowledge test for qualified military personnel. This waiver opportunity would help speed up the transition of veterans and active-duty personnel aiming to work as trucker drivers.
The second rule proposes to allow states to extend the validity of CDL learner’s permit up to one year. The extension eliminates the burden of retesting and additional transportation fees incurred by individuals renewing their licenses.
3. Congress-Mandated Review on CSA Program Released
The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently published a study affecting the trucking industry. The publication reviewed the FMCSA’s CSA program as mandated by the Congress-approved FAST Act of 2015.
The study is called “Improving Motor Carrier Safety Measurement.”
Though the review justifies the CSA program as being “conceptually sound,” it still notes several improvements on its implementation.
The publication urges the development and use of “a more statistically principled approach” in its system.
- It suggests the use of Item Response Theory (IRT) models — a procedure already being used to determine hospital rankings.
- The review also recommends improvements on the data obtained by the FMCSA.
- The research team noted a sizable chunk of information in the FMCSA’s system is either missing or unsatisfactory in quality. Also, police narratives that may help in understanding crash factors are not represented in the data collected.
- The committee, therefore, suggested that the FMCSA collaborates with state governments and other agencies in improving data collection methods and quality.
4. The FMCSA Urged by Associations to Adopt CSA Program Reforms
In response to the publication, trucking associations are now pressing the FMCSA to embrace changes to the CSA program as proposed by NASEM. ATA recently released an article saying that they support the major conclusions drawn from the study.
Chris Spear, ATA’s CEO and President, stated that the review confirmed the existence of substantial drawbacks in the program. He believes that these deficiencies “must be addressed.”
Sean Garney, ATA’s Safety Policy Director, highlights the “urgent need” to deal with issues of data sufficiency and accuracy. He agrees with NASEM’s conclusion that the system should be based on empirically-validated information rather than expert opinions.
Other associations also backed the study’s conclusions and called for changes.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) mentioned that it hopes the FMCSA will take the recommendations seriously. The group stated that the review appears to have agreed with their previously stated concerns.
The Trucking Alliance also supports NASEM’s study conclusions as well. They believe that the suggested improved enforcement policies and data collection methods will help mitigate truck crashes and accidents.
5. The Supreme Court Rejected OOIDA’s Appeal on the ELD Mandate
On a similar note, OOIDA’s final attempt to revoke the ELD mandate was recently derailed by the Supreme Court.
The association claimed that the ELD mandate goes against truck drivers’ rights and protections against warrantless searches. With this belief, the group brought their case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision of the proceeding went in favor of the FMCSA’s ELD mandate.
OOIDA appealed to the entire circuit court for a rehearing but was rejected.
Finally, after one last attempt at the Supreme Court, their court challenge has effectively ended with their petition being denied.
OOIDA felt “extremely disappointed” with the Supreme Court’s decision. The group believes that their case contains many questions on the constitutionality of the mandate.
ATA, on the other hand, is pleased that the Supreme Court is not interfering with the ELD mandate’s implementation. The association says that they will continue to support the FMCSA as it aims to meet the rule’s deadline.
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