The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), Austin, Texas, unveiled its Top Industry Issues report, which includes the list of the Top 10 critical issues facing the North American trucking industry. For the second year in a row, the driver shortage is the top-ranked issue.

The need to recruit qualified truck drivers is not a new issue for the industry. In fact, driver shortage has been a Top 3 issue in 12 out of the 14 years that ATRI has conducted this survey. However, driver shortage has held firm as the No. 1 issue, as strong freight demand and an aging workforce increase pressure on motor carriers to recruit and retain the best talent.

The survey generated more than 1,500 responses from motor carriers and commercial drivers who prioritized strategies for addressing each issue.

The No. 2 issue in this year's survey is the Hours-of-Service rules, driven in large part by the industry's call for increased flexibility, particularly the sleeper berth provision. Reflecting the industry's challenges in recruiting and retaining professional drivers, this year's No. 3 issue is driver retention, up two spots from last year.

Industry concern over the ELD Mandate has abated some since the final rule went into effect December 2017, as evidenced by a drop in ranking from No. 2 in 2017 to No. 4 this year. The lack of available truck parking rounds out this year's Top 5 slot, but remains as the No. 2 issue among commercial drivers.

"I've spent the past year traveling the country as ATA chairman, and everywhere I go, people talk about how we've got to resolve our workforce challenges if we're going to keep this nation's economy moving forward," says Dave Manning, chairman of ATRI and president of TCW, Inc., Nashville, Tenn. "ATRI's annual analysis lays out the industry's preferred strategies for not only addressing our workforce issues, but [also] HOS, truck parking and congestion as well."