2018 Recap: The Trucking Industry’s Biggest Headlines

January 2, 2019
Posted by: Suppose U Drive

In 2018, the trucking industry certainly experienced some highs and lows, but even so, the industry overall is still booming. Of course, the truck driver shortage has been a growing concern throughout the year.

With the shortage of truck drivers came salary increases and a deeper look into ways of improving the lives of those who live on the road. The driver shortage also resulted in freight companies increasing rates, which has been felt by trucking companies as well as consumers.

Image courtesy of PeopleNet ELD

ELD Mandate Hinders Drivers

The ELD mandate has made multiple headaches for commercial freight companies and long-haul drivers alike. In 2017, the federal government began requiring that most trucks install and use an electronic logging device. The purpose of the device is to ensure truck drivers do not drive more than the acceptable 11 hours in a 14-hour day. Prior to this mandate, hour logs were kept manually for the most part and could be fabricated with little difficulty.

However, this mandate has caused massive frustration for truck drivers. With more than 60% of them stating that the limitation of hours is drastically unrealistic when you consider that the average time spent at a loading dock is three hours, which quickly eats into the 11-hour cap. This is causing drivers to see a cut in pay since they are paid by the mile, not the by the hour. Another issue is that more of them are on the same schedule, which means truck stops and roads are more crowded.

A primary reason for the mandate was to prevent truck driver fatigue after 2016 statistics revealed that more than 4,000 fatal crashes involved trucks or buses.  While the goal was to improve safety for everyone, those that work in the industry see a dire need for reconstruction of the rules.

Following the 2017 ELD mandate, some truck drivers resigned from the industry to make a living elsewhere. Following that, the truck driver shortage continued to worsen, and in June 2018, shippers stated that the average vanload per truck increased to 9.9 per truck (up from 5.6 per truck in June of 2017).


Trucker Shortage

The truck driver shortage has been an ongoing issue for the past decade and is expected to continue for the next several years. Until recently, the trucking industry focused on more experienced drivers typically in the mid-forties age range. On top of that, the Federal regulations forbid anyone under 21 years of age to hold an Interstate CDL, so a truck driving career is not an option for high school graduates.

With many drivers hitting retirement age and others choosing to leave the industry after stronger enforcements of ELD compliance, the shortage is still very real.

However, in response to the truck driver shortage, companies are offering larger sign-on bonuses in the range of $20,000 and increasing salaries, which has had a positive impact on the retention of current drivers. To further increase recruiting tactics, the industry schooling rates are now more affordable, and they are reaching out to women and veterans in an effort to accommodate the demands.

All of this has had a very positive impact as far as closing the gap goes, but the truck driver shortage is still something that the industry should expect to see in headlines as we head into 2019. With some additional efforts, however, the new year may very well see career interest pick up as the trucking industry continues growing quarter after quarter thanks to consumer demand.


Delivery Delays

Typically, when you hear about a boom in the economy and an influx of eCommerce businesses successfully expanding, you would think great things are happening for the trucking industry. But with the truck driver shortage, there are some challenges afoot.

With the increase of business, the boom in the economy has caused a domino effect for consumers in 2018. Shipping costs have skyrocketed, and many companies are passing those expenses along to the consumers. Delivery delays are becoming more common. In fact, Canada Post recently announced that more than 6 million packages are already delayed for the 2018 holiday season–and more is to come until the driver shortage is closed.


Driving While Distracted

Driver’s distraction has always been an issue in the trucking industry. From eating behind the wheel to fixing hair, to reading maps, or adjusting the radio or the climate controls. However, with the advancements in technology, distractions are more prevalent than ever before.

With people being in the bad habit of reaching for their smartphone for a quick reply while on the road, driver distraction has been increasing in the past few years. Approximately nine people die every day because of distracted driving.

Of course, the millennial age group is frequently stereotyped with the habit of texting and driving, but it happens with all ages–and many truck drivers are no exception. Truck drivers basically live on the roads, so it is not uncommon to give into the urge of multi-tasking while driving.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of a distracted truck driver can be much more severe merely due to the weight of their truck. Accidents that are caused by unsafe driving habits can also result in costing the driver thousands in penalties and even license suspension.

With federal laws already in place, many states are also beginning to ticket for driver distraction. This issue is dangerous and can change or take a life in an instant. In response to the growing problem, trucking companies are going above and beyond government laws and offering driver bonuses for accident-free driving records, and also requiring routine safety courses.

With that said, increasing safety features in vehicles are helping to protect people on the road no matter who’s at fault in an accident. In fact, sensing systems and cameras can even help prevent object collisions and collisions with wildlife, and 2019 should see many more implementations of such safety features become standard.

Image courtesy of JOC.com

Mobile Apps Improve Life on the Road

Life as a trucker can be exciting and fulfilling on some days and stressful on others. That is true for any job, for the most part. However, for truck drivers, mobile apps are used daily to make life easier. The use of CB radios has been replaced with cell phones. The CB was once relied upon for communication among the trucking community for conversation, road conditions and much more.

Now, drivers rely on mobile apps for logging mileage, checking schedules, road conditions. weigh stations, and even finding their next job (Uber Freight). In addition to business related apps, the trend of health apps is quickly growing among truck drivers too. With health becoming a growing area of concern for truck drivers, the industry as a whole has become more cognizant of the negative impact of sitting long hours, lack of exercise and limited food selections. However, mobile apps designed to accommodate such concerns can be useful in tracking calories, sleep habits, walking steps, offer nutrition tips and even send reminders to get up and move.

Don’t miss out

While we couldn’t recap every important event that happened during 2018, hopefully we shared some helpful insight. If you would like more information about the trucking industry and news highlights as they happen, sign up for our newsletter here.