Bill Graves retired from his position as president and chief executive of the American Trucking Associations earlier this year. But the longtime trucking executive still has a lot to say about where the industry is headed. In a guest column for, Graves opines about the most daunting challenges facing the trucking industry today, and he makes some interesting observations:

As I step aside as president and chief executive of the ATA, I look ahead to the issues that will define our industry going forward. Here are five of great significance.

A growing and critical shortage of labor

Trucking has a shortage of drivers and of technicians. While some may dispute this, every measure from ATA’s economics team and nearly every conversation I have with those in the industry highlight the fact that trucking companies have trouble attracting qualified drivers and technicians to keep America’s trucks moving.

trucks.comAs our trucks grow more and more complex, with more and more advanced technology, it will become even harder to find professional, dedicated technicians to maintain these vehicles.The simple solution to both of these issues is to improve the image of our industry and improve the pay of those who work in it. Both of these things are happening, and will continue to happen, so long as there’s a shortage of labor.

Development of automated vehicle technology

Whether it’s called driverless or automated or smart, the rapid development of automated vehicle technology has the power to transform our industry in many ways. We see the need for these systems in the market today. They improve safety and efficiency, and from here the technology only advances.

However, unanswered questions remain as we head down this path. We need to ensure that these technologies don’t compete with one another.

Movement toward alternative fuels

While the industry enjoys affordable diesel fuel prices, this situation loses sustainability overtime. As the economy grows, demand for oil (and the gasoline and diesel fuel it produces) puts pressure on prices.

Graves adds that these are just a few of the issues that trucking will face as it moves forward. “One thing is certain,” he says. “Regardless of these challenges, the trucking industry continues to serve a vital part of our nation’s economy. It moves America’s goods safely and efficiently.”


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