Millennial Machines: Could telematics help to attract young drivers?

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Jean-Sebastien Bouchard, Isaac Instruments VP – sales

TORONTO, Ont. – The trucking industry has clearly struggled to attract a younger generation of truck drivers. Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 account for 37% of the national workforce but represented just 14% of drivers in 2011 – and that’s down from 18% of drivers in 2006.

“This is still reducing, and this is definitely going the wrong way,” said Isaac Instruments vice-president of sales Jean-Sebastien Bouchard, sharing the figures during a leadership summit the company hosted in Toronto.

As fleets search for strategies, he suggested that today’s telematics systems offer a powerful recruiting and retention tool to help reverse the trend.

A survey by Trucking HR Canada found 55% of surveyed millennials see technology as a deciding factor when deciding where to work, after all. And telematics can certainly simplify a driver’s life while increasing operational productivity, he said.

“Drivers are using the telematics device every day. They use it many times per day. It’s part of their life. It’s part of their work,” Bouchard said.

But he asked the audience whether users are taking advantage of many features that would make a driver’s life easier.

Try entering a search query in Google, and suggested questions are populated after just a few letters, he offered as an example. “Relevancy is becoming important for us as well.”

“Where’s the technology that would allow me to get rid of that paperwork?” he asked, referring to the entering and re-entering of data such as truck and trailer numbers. Rather than asking drivers to enter the information that’s already known, leave them to focus on the information that’s really needed, he said.

“We need to look at how much information do we ask of the driver [that] we already have in the TMS [transportation management system].

“How do we manage feedback? How do we manage communication? How do we manage choice and how do we manage relevancy?” he asked, also stressing the value of minimizing the number of clicks needed to re-enter information.

Those who use Uber, for example, don’t have to key in an address. They simply tap on a screen, and messages are generated when the cars arrive and drop off. Geofencing makes such data sharing possible in trucking, too.

“This is the kind of stuff we need to look at,” he said.

Data can already be generated to support negotiations with shippers to address sources of delays, he added. And systems like the Drivewyze scale bypass service, while available for a fee, can limit delays that can otherwise frustrate those behind the wheel.

In some cases, fleets may be overlooking tools that are already available. The drivers and dispatchers who exchange voicemails may be able to tap into updated information with ease. Many customers have yet to use the InRealTime web portal that Isaac already offers for this service, he admitted. The same messages can be transferred by email if the feature is activated.

Bouchard also questioned what could be done to get shippers and consignees to accept electronic signatures and electronic proof of deliveries. “Why is it so difficult and so hard to get that electronic proof of delivery implemented? … Is there something that we can do to get the clients to accept it?”

Looking to the future, Bouchard asked if fleet systems could help millennials choose preferred routes, tapping into their love of travel. “Sometimes we could give them the choice,” he said.

Millennials are not looking for the chance to sit isolated in a truck, he added. They thrive on communication and networking that technology could help to facilitate. “They need to feel connected with the business that they look for.”

And the business recruiters are clearly looking for the millennials.








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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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