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Trucking Trends to Look Out for in 2017


January 31, 2017

Road During Sunny

New Technologies

In July, Gorilla Safety released a GPS tracking device that not only transmits location, but also type of equipment used, cargo hauled, fuel usage, and vehicle maintenance.  In the case of an accident, the device sends real-time data and estimates the severity of damage, which can then be used to improve accident response times for first responders.

For platooning, advanced driver assistive systems, or ADAS, technologies use vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V for short, communication systems to link the braking, acceleration and distances between the lead and follow trucks.  As a result, ADAS technology decreases stress on long-haul drivers by improving efficiency and creating a better job experience.

Changes in Government Regulations

If there’s one thing that doesn’t change, it’s that your trucking business will always have to keep up and abide by the laws and regulations introduced by the federal, state and local government.

Electronic logging devices, also known as ELDs, have been the talk for months, and the deadline for ELDs is creeping up.  Per rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all trucks must be equipped with proper ELDs by December 18, 2017, else face a fine that can cost you up to thousands of dollars.

New overtime rules were implemented on December 1, making salaried employees eligible for overtime pay if they earn less than $47,476 per year.  Although we are seeing the short-term effects of this rule now, it is uncertain on the long-term effects it will have on drivers, fleet-owners, and trucking companies.

Self-Driving Trucks

The concept of a driverless car or truck is here whether you believe it or not. Last year, Anheuser-Busch completed a 120 mile trip in a fully autonomous truck to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Partnering with Otto, a subsidiary of Uber, both companies hope to deploy this technology across America to improve safety for all road users.

However, the needs for drivers are still as strong ever.  According to Princeton Consultants, the implementation of self-driving truck technology will be in three phases:

  1. Truck autopilot, assisting a traditional driver who’s still in the seat—variations of which are currently being tested on U.S. highways.
  2. Linehaul driverless, for on-highway freight moves (perhaps in platoons) and with first/last mile conventional drayage.
  3. Door-to-door driverless, but not before the public believes the technology is safer than human drivers.

While full autonomy is still some time in the future, Princeton found that 60% of drivers believed self-driving trucks will have limited or no real impact on the industry.

Workforce Changes

You’re probably aware of the driver shortage, a trucking trend that is expected to continue through the year 2020. One of the contributing factors is the disparity between the number of drivers retiring or moving to a different type of work versus new comers, however, that is not the only factor.  According to Road Scholar Transport, 88 percent of carriers said most applicants were not qualified at the time of review.

We can assume companies will re-evaluate their entry qualifications this year to bring in more talent and provide the necessary training to ensure smooth transitions into the industry.

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