Truck News


Tapping into the pulse of the industry after one year at the helm

Wow…it’s been a year.

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.

Derek Clouthier

Derek Clouthier

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

Print this page

2 Comments » for Tapping into the pulse of the industry after one year at the helm
  1. Derek, I definitely agree with you that the above seem to be the top three issues facing the trucking industry right now. I am also relatively new to the industry and as the General Manager of a fleet solutions company, these issues are on the minds of our customers as well. In regards to point 3 however, I’m not sure that in Canada (and many areas of the U.S.) automated trucks will help to mitigate the driver shortage. I’m sure we have all viewed the Otto truck transporting a full load of Budweiser down a Colorado highway on a nice sunny day. While its an amazing technological feat there is still a driver behind the wheel. As far as I can see, until the proper infrastructure, full-proof technology and regulations are in place to enable a loaded truck to leave point A and get to point B with zero driver interaction we will continue to have a driver shortage.

    While planes were a strange concept a hundred years ago, I do not know many people who would get on a pilot-less airplane today. The role and technological skill required by the truck driver of the future will likely change drastically but I do not see trucks operating without driver interaction for many, many years.

    • John says:

      I too am new to working for an asset based trucking company but have used the services for years in my other capacities. Working from this side, I can’t see how driverless vehicles could become a reality and solve driver shortage problems in the foreseeable future. There is far too much that can go wrong. How do you underwrite insurance on a driverless vehicle? Where is the liability should something go wrong?

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *