Once an industry at a standstill with little change, the trucking industry is now in the mist of major transformation. What’s fueling this change? The answer is a combination of factors. New technology, new regulations and an increasing shortage of drivers are changing the landscape of the trucking industry.
New Regulations and Compliance
New industry regulations are forcing the industry to reform. The EPA had set forth a new set of standards due to green consciousness. The goal is to reduce toxic emissions and ramp up fuel efficiency. The manner in which trucks are manufactured is now regulated by the EPA. From 2018 and beyond, trucks must increase fuel efficiency by a minimum of one-third. These changes are also projected to reduce greenhouse gases by one billion tons. Truck manufacturers are already jumping onboard with designing and adding rolling-resistant tires to its fleets. Rolling-resistant tires are reported to improve fuel efficiency by 54 percent.
Computerization and digital technology has changed everything in the trucking industry. As a matter, it’s been the strongest influence. Sensors and GPS tracking systems allow distribution professionals to tell how well trucks are performing. Prognostics system monitor the trucks’ performance and alert drivers of potential problems and failures. New apps eliminate the need for freight brokers and make logistics much more efficient. Other electronic developments include increased power in electrical systems, remote-controlled outside mirrors and checks on driver drowsiness. Some trucks even have drivetrains fitted with a computerized brain that senses when more power is required to climb a hill, radar-based collision avoidance systems and easy-to-shift systems. Communication systems that send signals from the truck to satellites in space and back to fleet headquarters are perhaps the most advanced development in this area. These systems assist in tracking the load and its expected time delivery.
The driver shortage in the trucking industry has sparked urgency and is an ongoing problem. Since 2012, driver shortage has been on the increase. Turnover rates in driver employment are a high 90 percent. Currently, the trucking industry is short of about 40,000 drivers, and the gap just keeps increasing. So, what’s the reason for the driver shortage? Industry experts attribute it to safety regulations that lessen the amount of time truckers are allowed to be on the road driving and undue demands from suppliers and shippers. To take the edge off of the driver shortage, the industry is making some changes. Solutions include allowing 18-year-olds to drive interstate routes and offering more money and incentives to drivers.
All around, it’s driver capacity, technology and regulations that continue to drive the trucking industry towards a complete reformation.