According to a new Transportation Research Institute survey, the biggest challenge facing the trucking industry today is finding new drivers. The current group of truck drivers is aging out of the industry, while potential employees don’t want to stay away from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. This driver shortage is impacting the financial health of the industry, while forcing a rise in shipping rates.

Covid-19 has slowed new driver training, while it’s also discouraging experienced local and OTR truckers. To fill in the gaps, employers have resorted to poaching employees from other companies. It’s also taking longer to onboard new hires, as companies have to wait longer for background checks to be processed.

This is the fourth consecutive year that executives said that a driver shortage was the number one issue in the industry. Retention is the second most common issue for executives, but only 6th for the industry as a whole. Driver compensation ranks second overall, as wages continue to increase in an attempt to attract drivers.

Insurance costs are also on the list for the first time in 15 years. Insurance ranked 5th on the survey, due to an increase in litigation. Settlement costs have skyrocketed, putting businesses at higher financial risk. This has both increased the cost of policies, and made them harder to acquire.

Truckers interviewed for the survey named parking as their third highest concern, and compliance with regulations as the fourth highest concern. These issues are linked, as trucks must stay parked longer to comply with new limits on the number of hours driven each day.