ATRI Announces Research Projects for 2024

Issues Include Nuclear Verdicts, Cargo Theft, Highway Bottlenecks
Traffic in the New York Metro area
ATRI's 2024 research will provide a detailed analysis of the cost of congestion for specific bottleneck locations from its Top 100 truck bottlenecks list. (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

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The American Transportation Research Institute Board of Directors has approved a diverse set of 2024 research priorities designed to address some of the trucking industry’s most critical issues.

Those include workforce development, lawsuit abuse reform, transportation infrastructure, mining driver demographic data and understanding the scope of cargo theft.

The priorities were identified during ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee meeting at the group’s annual conference held in March in Washington. The 2024 research priorities include:

  • Update: Impact of Nuclear Verdicts. In 2020, ATRI released a landmark study examining the frequency and impact of nuclear verdicts on the trucking industry. That research documented the scale and frequency of truck-crash litigation verdicts and explored the growing use of third-party litigation financing. This update will utilize more recent data to examine how verdicts have changed since the initial study, impacts on motor carrier insurance premiums and factors contributing to nuclear verdicts, as well as potential impacts from state-level lawsuit abuse reform legislation passed in recent years.


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  • Calculating the Cost of Truck Bottlenecks. For the past several decades, ATRI has used its extensive database of truck GPS data to monitor and quantify traffic congestion on the nation’s highways. This research will provide a more granular analysis of the cost of congestion for specific bottleneck locations from ATRI’s Top 100 truck bottlenecks list, as well as case studies quantifying the return on investment for locations where targeted infrastructure improvements have resulted in reduced congestion.
  • Comprehending the Scope of Cargo Theft in the U.S. Cargo theft is a growing issue for motor carriers, shippers, insurers and consumers. This research will examine existing data sources as well as assist motor carriers with better quantifying the scale and frequency of this crime. The research also will examine existing and emerging cargo theft tracing and prevention programs to identify best practices.

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  • Federal Excise Tax Cost-Benefit Analysis. The 12% FET on the purchase of heavy-duty trucks and trailers is considered by many to discourage investment in newer, safer equipment with cleaner engines. This analysis will examine the impact of the FET on carrier decisions to avoid new equipment investment, such as unrealized safety and emissions improvements.
  • Mining Driver Demographic Data to Identify New Pathways to Trucking Careers. This study will capitalize on ATRI’s truck driver demographic data collected through driver surveys over several decades. The longitudinal data will be synthesized and mined to identify changing demographic trends in the driver population, allowing the industry to better target driver recruitment and retention strategies. The research also will examine potential pathways into the industry from previously untapped populations, including young adults aging out of the foster care system.