Why Fuel Prices Rank As No.1 Issues in Trucking Industry
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Fuel Prices Rank As No. 1 Issue in Trucking Industry 2022 Report

by Mario Tarradell | December 6, 2022

Fuel Prices

Fuel Prices Rank As No. 1 Issue in Trucking Industry 2022 Report

For the 18th year, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) surveyed trucking industry stakeholders – from truck drivers to executives – to compile the Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry 2022 Report. And this year, the #1 ranking issue was unanimous – fuel prices.

More than 4,200 industry stakeholders in North America sent their opinions on the most important issues affecting trucking and fuel prices were selected as the top industry concern from a list of 28 critical issues. That response rate was the highest ever in the history of the Top Industry Issues Survey. Of the respondents, 47.2% were professional truck drivers, 38.8% were motor carrier executives and personnel, and 14% were other industry stakeholders.

Fuel Prices Takes the Top Spot

The fuel prices issue scored a 27.5% total share with an industry concern index of 100. Fuel prices dethroned driver shortage (now in second place) after it spent five consecutive years in the top spot. To underscore the industry-wide concern over the rising cost of diesel in 2022, the last time fuel prices made the top 10 industry issues list was in 2013.

Record-high diesel prices this year left trucking company owners with fleets of all sizes scrambling for ways to cut costs. It also sidelined more than a few 18-wheelers as they sat out the tidal wave of high diesel prices. Fuel prices were particularly problematic for owner-operators because many of them operate in the spot market where there is less leeway to negotiate fuel surcharges to cover the price upswings.

Possible Solutions for High Fuel Prices

What about solutions for high fuel prices? Survey respondents chose three possible strategies to counter the escalation of prices at the pump. Here they are in rank order:

  • Advocate for federal actions that help stabilize the supply of fuel and minimize price volatility – 54.7% of respondents believe the best approach is to stabilize the nation’s fuel supply through federal action, from expanding refining capacity to tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • Research potential factors that may be affecting fuel availability and pricing volatility – 23.2% believe that more research is needed to fully comprehend the factors affecting the nation’s fuel supply.
  • Promote financial incentives for alternative and renewable fuels to support growth and reduce costs during development and market expansion – Only 6.8% of respondents think the best way to address high fuel costs is to expand other fuel sources, including alternative and renewable fuels.

While these counterstrategies are certainly great future courses of action, they will require policy changes, government intervention, and a lot of time before the industry sees results. For a more immediate solution, use a fuel card that offers discounts at the pump and charges $0 transaction fees at in-network locations. The TCS Fuel Card does both at more than 2,000 truck stops across the country.

The Rest of the Top 10 Trucking Industry Issues

That brings us to the other nine most critical issues for the trucking industry in 2022. Among these issues is a first-timer to the survey and a couple of high-ranking perennials.

  1. Driver shortage – The top issue of the last five years slips to second with a 21.4% total share and an industry concern index of 85.0. It’s still a prominent problem with the American Trucking Association predicting the industry’s shortage of truck drivers could grow to 160,000 by 2030.
  2. Truck parking – A fixture in the top-five since 2015, this year is scored a 25.1% total share and an 81.4 industry concern index. Lack of truck parking is tied to recruitment and retention issues as well as efforts to bring more women into the profession.
  3. Driver compensation – Still in the top five after its first appearance in 2019 (19.2% total share, 71.0 industry concern index), pay increases have become a prominent tool to recruit and retain good drivers especially after post-pandemic freight demand and the growing driver shortage.
  4. Economy – Although it was once a hot-button issue, economy fell out of the top 10 in 2017. But this year it returns because of inflation, equipment and part shortages, high diesel prices, and wage pressures. Total share: 18.6% and 62.9 industry concern index.
  5. Detention/delay at customer facilities – This issue, with a 15.6% total share and 53.8 industry concern index, intersects with other problems such as recruitment and retainment, access to important amenities, safe parking, and reduced pay.
  6. Driver retention – Dropping from a number two rank in 2021, and with a 14.2% total share and 48.6 industry concern index, driver retention is certainly tied to driver shortage and compensation. It’s also a reason that retention bonuses were up 57% in 2022.
  7. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) – FMCSA’s safety measurement system remains a perennial sore point with carriers who are still unsatisfied with how their safety performance is evaluated by CSA. This year’s survey total share is 12.5% and its industry concern index is 45.8.
  8. Speed limiters – A newbie to the rank, speed limiters have been a drivers’ concern for years. It just got hotter after the FMCSA issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) to generate a speed limiter ruling in 2023. Total share: 12.8%; industry concern index: 39.3.
  9. Lawsuit abuse reform – Lawsuit abuse reform continues to make inroads through state-level advocacy resulting in legislative wins for the trucking industry. But excessive litigation negatively impacts insurance rates, so the issue has a 10.9% total share and a 35.4 industry concern index.
Fuel Prices

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