Ruan's Approach to Addressing ATRI's List of Top 10 Trucking Industry Concerns

Nov 19, 2021 By:

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released a report listing the top 10 critical issues currently affecting the trucking industry, according to a survey of carriers and professional drivers. For the fifth year in a row, the ongoing driver shortage ranked as the top issue.

Despite progress being made to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccines and various mandates, the uncertainty and disruptions from 2020 have bled into 2021 as well. Shortages of items from computer chips to construction materials have led to high prices, long delays, and inflation—with no signs of stopping any time soon. Through all these issues, the trucking industry has stood out as the essential backbone to keeping supply lines strong and delivering essential goods to stores, hospitals, and production facilities. Still, it is unclear when and how a “return to normalcy” will occur as the world continues to deal with COVID-19 and its many ramifications over a year later.

ATRI’s 2021 survey generated more than 2,500 responses and represented industry stakeholders across North America. Motor carriers represented 52.4 percent of the respondents, while drivers made up 24.1 percent, and other industry stakeholders accounted for 23.5 percent.

The overall survey findings were as follows:

  1. Driver Shortage: For the fifth year in a row, the driver shortage ranked as the industry’s top concern in 2021. The issue was only exacerbated this year with training and licensing backlogs, many drivers retiring, and others exiting the industry over COVID-19-related health concerns. The industry is seeking to update federal regulations to allow a younger population of potential drivers to enter the industry.

  2. Driver Retention: Driver retention is critical during a driver shortage, and carriers are constantly seeking new and improved retention strategies. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), driver turnover in large fleets was 92 percent at the end of 2020. Large-scale research is being done to reverse the trend of drivers leaving the profession.

  3. Driver Compensation: For the third year in a row, driver compensation is a top-10 issue. Many believe the driver shortage, driver retention, and driver compensation are linked and that pay increases are needed across the board, especially when other competing industries offer preferred options like being home every night. The industry has steadily been raising driver pay for the last several years.

  4. Lawsuit Abuse Reform: Formally referred to as “tort reform,” lawsuit abuse reform rose three spots this year. According to ATRI, there was a documented 967 percent increase in average verdict size between 2010 and 2018, with those numbers continuing to rise.

  5. Truck Parking: The growing scarcity of appropriate and safe truck parking continues to be a dilemma for drivers. Earlier this year, there was a provision included in a U.S. House highway bill that would have provided $1 billion in truck parking grants, but it has since been removed.

  6. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA): The FMCSA has implemented multiple systemic changes over the years to address CSA concerns. However, its placement on this list indicates the mixed reviews of the FMCSA’s safety measurement system, first implemented in 2010.

  7. Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities: On the list for a third year in a row, detention/delay at customer facilities continues to be a pervasive issue for drivers. According to ATRI, “the increase in delays creates cascading impacts for drivers as their available hours-of-service are wasted.”

  8. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding: While the trucking industry hauls 72.5 percent of the nation’s freight, federal leaders have continued to ignore the growing problem of our country’s crumbling roadway infrastructure. Poorly maintained roads and bridges increases wear and tear on vehicles, causes delays, wastes fuel, adds to driver stress, and negatively impacts productivity for the industry as a whole. President Biden’s new infrastructure bill may help to finally turn the tide.

  9. Insurance Cost/Availability: Insurance costs appeared as a top concern for the second year in a row. According to ATRI, many fleets assume higher risk levels through higher deductibles, self-insurance, and lower levels of excess liability coverage. Nuclear verdicts, where plaintiff’s attorneys garner more than $10 million on behalf of their clients who are involved in accidents with large trucks, are compounding the rising insurance premiums.

  10. Diesel Technician Shortage: This is the first year that the diesel technician shortage has made the list. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be over 28,000 openings for diesel service technicians for each of the next 10 years.

Due to different day-to-day experiences, the responses of commercial drivers and motor carriers differ. Carriers are more concerned with hiring and retaining drivers, dealing with insurance and lawsuit abuse, and maintaining good financial performance, whereas drivers are understandably more concerned with their health, safety, and regulations that may impact their pay and daily activities.

The following chart breaks down the top 10 concerns for both groups:





Truck Parking (tie)

Driver Compensation (tie)

Driver Shortage


Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities

Driver Retention


Fuel Prices

Lawsuit Abuse Reform


Driver Training Standards



Hours-of-Service Rules

Driver Compensation


ELD Mandate

Insurance Cost/Availability


Driver Distraction

Diesel Technician Shortage


Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding

Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding


Speed Limiters

Driver Distraction



Detention/Delay at Customer Facilities

You can view the full ATRI report here.

The Ruan Approach

To better serve our customers, Ruan’s dedicated teams stay abreast of all regulations. We have several leaders serving on the ATA, ATRI, and Iowa Motor Truck Association (IMTA) boards that help lobby for policies and to keep us and our customers updated. Navigating these restrictions and policies and achieving compliance drains resources for businesses that are not full-time transporters. As a premier Integrated Supply Chain Solutions provider, Ruan is equipped to handle regulatory changes and compliance, saving our customers headaches and manpower. 

Ruan's driver retention rate is currently four times better than the industry average, and many of our drivers have been with the company for 10, 20, or even 30 years. As part of our People First Guiding Principle and desire to be a great place to work, Ruan places a high value on maintaining predictable schedules and work-life balance. Most drivers are home every evening and only drive for one primary customer or account. Ruan’s low driver turnover rate makes for safer and more accurate deliveries because drivers thoroughly know their truck, their route, where to park or take a break, the product they haul, and their customer. In addition, our Megasafe culture and Safety Focus Guiding Principle contribute to high morale.

Insuring a fleet of trucks is expensive and is almost always accompanied by excessive deductibles. Switching to Ruan’s Dedicated Contract Transportation solution shelters your organization from these costs. We diligently train team members on safe practices, Department of Transportation (DOT) policies, and specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and requirements. By allocating more resources to training, Ruan is able to develop safer and more efficient drivers, which reduces insurance claims and holds down costs.

With the current regulatory focus and the ongoing driver shortage, many shippers are taking the opportunity to focus on their core competencies. Selecting an expert transportation partner like Ruan to provide transportation and logistics services results in improvements in all aspects of shipping. Our customers rely on Ruan’s Dedicated Contract Transportation and Managed Transportation solutions so they can do what they do best—focusing on their core business model. Our customers capitalize on Ruan’s ongoing investment in equipment, drivers, service centers, and the latest technologies in everything from supply chain optimization to on-truck and in-cab technologies. By partnering with Ruan,  ost companies are able to lower risk, reduce overheads, and free up capital. 

Ruan delivers these benefits because transportation is our core competency. We always have our thumb on the industry's pulse, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve.