Last November, I walked into this job with a strong confidence in my writing ability and an equally strong apprehension with my lack of knowledge of the trucking industry. I’ve learned a lot in the past year, thanks in most part to you industry people who have been so willing to answer my at times seemingly obvious questions.
If I could pinpoint what I feel are the Top 3 issues facing the trucking industry moving forward, mostly because they have dominated what I’ve been hearing from readers and industry people and writing about for the past year, it would look like this (in no particular order):
1) Electronic logging devices (ELDs) – On one hand you have several trucking company owners/managers, government officials, trucking association heads and even a handful of drivers, mostly younger drivers mind you, but still some of the old guard, saying how ELDs make driving safer due to the monitoring of hours-of-service; make doing their jobs simpler and more streamlined with not having to use paper logs and all that they entail; and reduces illegal activity when it comes to hours on the road…after all, who wants a driver behind the wheel of any type of vehicle who has been awake for the past 18 hours and is getting by on a six-pack of Red Bull? But on the other side of the coin, I have heard gripes about government intervention, increased downtime, hours-of-service regulations that do not make sense and truckers stranded an hour from their destination because their ELD says they can’t go on…among other grievances. Again, I am not a driver, but yes, I do have an opinion on the matter despite receiving letters to the editor (which were perfectly acceptable, understandable and polite) saying that if I’m not a driver, I shouldn’t have an opinion on ELDs. To me, that’s like saying if you’re not a politician, you should not have an opinion on politics. My opinion is this: if something like ELDs will make the trucking industry safer, reduce accidents and ensure all employees, not just drivers, follow the rules, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong with them.
2) Driver shortage – The idea of a driver shortage comes down to three things. The first is that we live in a changing world, one where technology is forever going to take control and every computer savvy teen or twentysomething out there has an idea for the next big app that will make them a billionaire who will be island shopping in the next five years, if not sooner. Truck driving is not easy. It’s a difficult life, difficult on your body, your mind and your family, and it doesn’t make you rich. Therefore, it’s a difficult sell on today’s young people. Which brings me to the second thing: recruitment. I have heard from many who believe there is no driver shortage, just a lack of financial motivation for people to get behind the wheel. Perhaps if truck driving were to be recognized as a skilled profession by the government, the pay scale would tip in the drivers favor, and more people would take it up as a career. And the last thing with relation to the driver shortage is…
3) Collision mitigation/automated trucks – Self-driving trucks are a strange concept, but so were airplanes, automatic tractor-trailers and ‘tweeting’ when we were first introduced to them. Perhaps the biggest thing about the idea of automated trucks is that it would certainly help mitigate the driver shortage.
A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.
@DerekClouthier All posts by Derek Clouthier