Trucking research organization identifies topics to study this year

Red tractor-trailer on highway

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Board of Directors reviewed and approved the organization's 2024 Top Research Priorities. The priorities were identified by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee at its annual meeting March 12-13 in Washington, DC. 

The committee selected a diverse set of research priorities designed to address some of the industry’s most critical issues, according to a statement from the organization. The 2024 ATRI top research priorities are:

Mining Driver Demographic Data to Identify New Pathways to Trucking Careers: This study will capitalize on ATRI's truck driver demographic data collected through driver surveys over several decades. The data will be synthesized and mined to identify changing demographic trends in the driver population, allowing industry to better target driver recruitment and retention strategies. The research will also examine potential pathways into the industry from previously untapped populations including young adults aging out of the foster care system. 

Impact of Nuclear Verdicts – Update: In 2020 ATRI released a study examining the frequency and impact of nuclear verdicts on the trucking industry. That research documented the scale and frequency of truck crash litigation verdicts and explored the growing use of third-party litigation financing. This update will utilize more recent data to examine how verdicts have changed since the initial study, impacts on motor carrier insurance premiums, factors contributing to nuclear verdicts, as well as potential impacts from state-level lawsuit abuse reform legislation passed in recent years. 

Comprehending the Scope of Cargo Theft in the U.S.: Cargo theft is a growing issue for motor carriers, shippers, insurers, and consumers. This research will examine existing data sources as well as work with motor carriers to better quantify the scale and frequency of this often-unreported crime. The research will also examine existing and emerging cargo theft tracing and prevention programs to identify best practices.

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Calculating the Cost of Truck Bottlenecks: For the past several decades, ATRI has utilized its extensive database of truck GPS data to monitor and quantify traffic congestion on the nation’s highways. This research will provide a more granular analysis of the cost of congestion for specific bottleneck locations from ATRI’s top 100 truck bottlenecks list, as well as case studies quantifying the return-on-investment for locations where targeted infrastructure improvements have resulted in reduced congestion. 

Federal Excise Tax (FET) Cost-Benefit Analysis: The 12 percent FET on the purchase of heavy-duty trucks and trailers is considered by many to discourage investment in newer, safer equipment with cleaner engines. This analysis will examine the impact of the FET on carrier decisions to avoid new equipment investment, such as unrealized safety and emissions improvements.