Many believe we live in an era of disinformation and distrust of those who report the news. That’s why it is reassuring to know that someone actively listens to trucking industry concerns and then responds with thoughtful research on meeting those challenges. All done transparently and for free.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) fulfills this vital role. ATRI operates as a non-profit research organization and part of the American Trucking Associations Federation, whose driving purpose is the safety and productivity of trucking. Rebecca Brewster, president and CEO of ATRI, spoke to the PrePass Members Meeting in August. The timing was not coincidental because each September ATRI surveys the entire trucking industry – motor carriers, drivers, everyone. Industry concerns are taken to the ATRI Research Advisory Committee (RAC), a diverse group of transportation experts, including carriers, suppliers, government, and professional drivers. The RAC directs which survey concerns merit research. There are no hidden agendas, and the research results are posted on the ATRI website, accessible by anyone.

ATRI began the industry surveys in 2005. Last year, over 47% of survey respondents were professional truck drivers and 39% were motor carrier executives. Among driver respondents, truck parking, fuel prices and driver compensation were the top three concerns. Motor carriers ranked the driver shortage, driver retention and fuel prices as their top three concerns. New to the top five concerns overall was the state of the national economy. New to the top ten was speed limiters.

The Research Advisory Committee looked at the top motor carrier concern and tasked ATRI with finding ways to improve the recruitment, training, and retention of truck drivers aged 20–24-year. ATRI responded with an assessment tool for identifying, safe, younger drivers – available for free on the ATRI website. At the same time, interviews with current drivers showed a remarkable lack of awareness regarding the legality of marijuana use by truck drivers, which can lead to disqualifying future truck driving candidates and pulling current ones from the road.

Of course, those truck driving candidates must operate safely. ATRI developed a crash predictor model based on a driver’s motor vehicle record – the MVR. The number one MVR predictor of a future crash was a previous violation for failure to yield right of way. What came in at number two? A prior crash, of any kind, no matter whose fault. But if you want safe drivers, the ATRI MVR research said hire a female driver. Women drivers came out best, regardless of the criteria used.

In addition to the annual industry concerns survey, ATRI measures the operational costs of trucking from carrier financials submitted in confidence to ATRI. The 2022 data showed much higher operational costs, driven by fuel prices, and additional increases in employee wages and benefits. On the other hand, driver turnover fell, truck miles per gallon rose, and driver detention was improving, though it remained a problem. Motor carriers who agree to submit their financial data receive, in return, a customized, confidential ATRI comparison to carriers of the same size and industry sector.

As a non-profit, ATRI is funded by charitable contributions. PrePass Safety Alliance is proud to support ATRI. Visit the ATRI website, participate in a survey, and help us continue the flow of critical and trustworthy industry research.

The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and integrated electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and INFORM™ Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.