The trucking industry is on the brink of disruption. It is hanging precariously between “the future is now” and “the good ‘ol days.”
Recently, PRECO was honored to attend the annual Trucking Summit. A two day event filled with face-to-face conversations with trucking industry executives. We were able to sit down with many of these professionals and discover what was keeping these men and women up at night.
1.) Driver Retention
Trucking is the bread and butter of America. Country songs romanticize the days spent on the road and it is the top employer in 29 states in the U.S. So why are trucking companies having a problem finding and retaining employees?
With the average age of truck drivers hovering around 52 and the turnover of young drivers is between 90-100% it is easy to see why industry professionals are worried.
Many industry experts say that low wages and the long hours are to blame. In the past, a truck driver made enough money to comfortably claim a spot in the ranks of the middle class. Today, truckers’ real wages are failing to keep up with inflation. This means that even though they are being paid the same, that money no longer has the buying power that it once did.
Another issue is simply the fact that the younger generation has much different priorities and expectations than those before them and being a truck driver does not meet those requirements.
Trucking professionals are working hard to attract professional drivers who are excited about a profession that keeps nations around the globe connected.
There is a marked divide in the trucking industry concerning automation. Many professionals are excited about the possibilities of the technology but just as many are reluctant to embrace the idea. Those reluctant to embrace autonomous technology like automatic braking and driverless vehicles point out that companies will still need to employ people to man those vehicles.
A truck driver does more than simply operate the vehicle. Truck drivers are an instrumental part of the company supply chain, especially during the loading and unloading of their vehicles, and let’s not forget the role they play when a mechanical issue arises while on the road.
Many industry experts worry that the more automated the trucking industry becomes, the harder it will be to recruit and retain drivers. Drivers spend long hours driving on never-ending stretches of interstate. Asking them to give up more and more job functions may not entice a new generation of employees.
3.) In-cab Cameras
The idea behind the electronic vehicle recorder is to reduce unsafe behaviors. Numerous studies have concluded that the amount of undesirable behaviors can be cut in half when people are under, or feel as if they are under observation. Trucking companies hope that by installing in-cab cameras operators will more closely adhere to company safety policies and accidents will decrease.
In-cab vehicle recorders also provide an extra layer of safety and security should an incident take place. Many accidents are blamed on the truck driver and trucking company, with some feeling that the companies are guilty until proven innocent. With an in-cab camera, officials are able to instantaneously recreate the incident with the visual evidence. There are many digital recording now available online that show truck and equipment drivers doing their jobs well, only to be cut off, side swiped, etc. by an aggressive or distracted automotive driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently estimated that the average cost of an injury crash was around $195,000 and a fatal crash at over $3.5 million. Many of the trucking professionals we spoke with said they employed forward collision avoidance systems with active braking on their vehicles. Most said that collision avoidance technology was a no-brainer because the cost of not installing safety technology was too high. A single fatality costs more than installing collision avoidance technology across a very large fleet.
Trucking companies are looking more into side collision avoidance to help protect driver’s blind spots out on the interstate and in slow speed turn maneuvers in more populated areas. They are looking to accident prevention technology providers to help them keep their drivers and the public safe and to cut costs associated with vehicle accidents.
Trucking Summit Wrap Up
Attending events like the Trucking Summit provides PRECO with the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with industry professionals. We have a long history with medium-and heavy-duty industries and we have actively played a role in the evolution and effects of various technologies.
We may not be able to solve the labor shortage in the trucking industry but we can help keep drivers and their vehicles safe. Our intelligent technology allows our radar sensors to integrate with various other safety technologies being utilized by a fleet so their trucks can potentially have complete, 360° coverage. Our goal is to drivers and operators avoid accidents and help ensure they make it home safely.
What are your thoughts on what is happening in the trucking industry and how can safety technology help?