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Study finds driver knowledge, safety, compliance are amongst fleet managers’ top concerns – Truck News

Driver skills, knowledge, managing company expenses, and overall safety are the top concerns of more than half of fleet managers surveyed in a recent study conducted by the J.J. Keller Center for Market Insights.

On Monday, the research department of J.J. Keller and Associates released its fourth annual report on the state of fleet management, Insights on Priorities for Today’s Fleet Managers, based on the survey conducted in February this year, analyzing the trending concerns among fleet managers in the U.S. and Canada over the past three years.

These include driver training, new vehicle technology, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance, vehicle maintenance, overall safety, and managing company expenses. Navigating those issues led 74% of 489 surveyed fleet managers to classify their jobs as ‘moderately to extremely challenging.’

(Image: Insights on Priorities for Today’s Fleet Managers)

The importance of driver knowledge and skills, as well as expense management have increased the most since 2023. Struggling with hours-of-service (HOS) limits and use exemptions jumped 13% while finding and retaining high-quality drivers remained a top item from prior years and grew 12% from 2023.

FMCSA compliance

However, the FMCSA compliance issue saw the third biggest year-over-year ‘jump’. Understanding how regulations and exceptions specifically apply to them stayed on the list of top concerns, increasing 9% year over year.

Nearly half (47%) of the managers identified having accurate and well-organized driver qualification files as the most important aspect of FMCSA compliance. This was up 5% from 2023.

Comments from respondents regarding the most challenging aspects of their job included “Staying up to date with changing DOT and OSHA rules,” and, “ensuring all parts of compliance are monitored and records centrally retained.”

(Photo: Insights on Priorities for Today’s Fleet Managers)

Driver skills, knowledge

As the risk of “nuclear verdicts” and FMCSA audits continues to increase, fleet managers are likely to continue to prioritize staying up to date with regulatory requirements and improving driver knowledge and skills.

Sixty-five per cent of those surveyed agree that continuous learning is “mostly” or “completely” emphasized by their company. However, 35% of respondents stated that they receive less than ideal support from their company for continuous learning.

Meanwhile, the importance of HOS compliance, exception applications, and understanding FMCSA regulation applications have become increasingly important since last year, the study found.

(Image: Insights on Priorities for Today’s Fleet Managers)

“Despite [the] widespread use of electronic logs, hours-of-service compliance remains a key issue, with HOS violations making up over 40% of all roadside violations and nearly one in five violations found during audits in 2023,” said Daren Hansen, senior industry advisor at J. J. Keller & Associates, in the study. “Toss in a variety of exceptions, and it’s no wonder that drivers struggle with HOS compliance.”

Driver training

When it comes to driver training, 47% of managers said training specific to the unique needs of drivers, operations, vehicles or industry is the most important. And some of the top concerns included having accurate and well-organized training records, as well as having engaged in efficient training that would allow drivers to get back on the road as soon as possible and apply what’s learned in training to real life.

However, a quarter of the respondents said that being able to prove that a driver understood the training content is a challenge.

Based on the study findings, almost 70% of the companies’ training is provided by in-person instructor. The other two most popular delivery methods include online courses (47%) and informal training ‘as needed’ (32%).

The full study can be downloaded here.


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