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October 6, 2016 12:07 PM, EDT

ELD Mandate Soars to No. 1 on ATRI's Top 10 List of Critical Issues

Partnership With NATSO Produces Parking App
Brewster, Leathers by Joseph Terry/Transport Topics
LAS VEGAS — The American Transportation Research Institute released its annual top 10 list of critical issues affecting the trucking industry on Oct. 3 at the Management Conference & Exhibition. It also announced a new app with the National Association of Truck Stop Owners to address one of those issues: parking.

The report is based on a survey that elicited 3,285 responses from industry stakeholders in North America. ATRI said that 64.5% of the respondents were commercial drivers, 27.8% were motor carriers and 7.7% were other industry stakeholders.

The top concern on the list was the upcoming electronic logging device mandate. All commercial drivers who are required to track hours of service must have an ELD in their truck by December 2017, although the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit to vacate the rule. The issue was number six on the 2015 survey.

“We’re already ELD-compliant, but the industry needs some certainty about a firm implementation date and plan toward it,” said Derek Leathers, president of Werner Enterprises Inc., which ranks No. 15 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

The second critical issue was hours of service, which had been the top concern the last three years.

“What is going to be the final resolution to the rule? Is there going to be a cap on the weekly hours? What is the final fix going to look like? So just more uncertainty,” ATRI President Rebecca Brewster said.

Third on the list was the cumulative economic impacts of trucking regulations on the industry overall. The concern, according to the researchers, is about overregulation and the economic impact of ELDs, hours-of-service requirements, speed limiters and drug testing.

“There are a lot of regulations, and a lot of them are well-intended, and we’re not looking to avoid them, but the sheer volume is about as heavy as it’s been in over 25 years,” Leathers said.

The fourth critical issue among respondents was the scarcity of available truck parking and the dangerous situation it creates for drivers to drive beyond their allowable hours of service to find a spot or park in an unsafe location.

It is such a big problem in the industry that ATRI and Natso announced a new smartphone app called “Park My Truck” on Oct. 3 to help mitigate the issue to find available spots.

“This app marks the first time the industry has come together to provide a national source for truck parking availability,” Natso President Lisa Mullings said.

“Our project goal was very simple: We wanted to include truck parking from every truck parking provider in America. Our only criteria was that the provider had publicly available parking and they commit to sharing the information about what spaces are available,” she added.

American Trucking Associations partnered with the two organizations to develop the app.

“There are simply just not enough spaces for the trucks that we have on the roads to safely park,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “A simple solution like this one — letting people know where there is parking available — can be critically important.”

“I can say, from our experience, that it’s getting harder and harder to maintain supply chain efficiency and productivity in this environment of increasing regulation and highway congestion. Providing truck parking information is an important tool in this effort,” added Judy McReynolds, president of ArcBest Corp., which ranks No. 12 on the TT100 list of for-hire carriers.

The overall tepid freight market was the fifth critical issue of the year. ATRI recommended that the government reform or repeal ineffective and burdensome regulations that add to economic costs and advocate for policies that would stimulate the economy. It also pushed for more research about the impact of changes to the overtime rules that take effect Dec. 1.

Compliance, safety and accountability scores dropped out of the top five for the first time since 2010 to number six on this year’s list. ATRI said the result is due to the FAST Act passage in December 2015 that requires a study of CSA data accuracy and reliability and removal of the carrier scores from the public view.

Rounding out the top ten were the driver shortage, driver retention, transportation funding and distracted driving of other motorists.