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Top 10 Concerns of the Trucking Industry in 2018

At the American Trucking Association’s Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE) this year, ATRI brought to light the ten most pressing issues for the trucking industry. A strengthening economy and fervent freight demand have made 2018 a strong year for the industry. Nonetheless, shipper demands exceed truck volume capacity and truck driver availability. 

How will ELD technology address this most critical matter on top of the other nine critical issues? Can our ELDs rescue us? 

Several strategies were proposed at MCE, but not without controversy. These ranged from workforce development and retention strategies to addressing ELD requests, expansion of the FMCSA’s pilot program, increased enforcement of driver distraction, and more.

Here’s a summary of the ranking and how ELD technology can help address these hot issues:

1. Driver Shortage

For the second year in a row, the commercial driver shortage tops the list. Growing demand for truck transportation continues to rapidly increase while carriers struggle with both recruiting and retaining qualified drivers.

The current shortage, which the ATA estimates to be over 50,000 drivers, has driven carriers to boost driver pay, benefits, and bonuses over the past year in order to remain competitive in the freight market.

ELD technology application: 
Screening for drivers with clean driving records and experience matters! Recruiting safer drivers helps control your insurance rates, too. Insightful ELD data can also assist you in retaining your drivers through coaching, development, and incentive programs.

 

2. Hours of Service Rules

Commercial drivers and motor carriers largely share a concern regarding the flexibility of current HOS provisions, as well as how the move to ELDs is affecting industry safety and productivity.

ELD technology application: 
Continual ELD use supports flexibility for future HOS regulations and policy decisions; therefore, EROAD is working on HOS Flexibility research, applying ELD data to determine where most driver violations occur. It perfectly aligns with our mission of facilitating proactive fleet and risk management to provide this relevant input to the FMCSA.

EROAD performed analysis on millions of data points from trips taken by US-based vehicles and drivers from January 1, 2018 to July 31, 2018, examining patterns of FMCSA violations in relation to violation type, frequency by driver and time in violation. 

Additionally, we surveyed our customer base and other fleet operators to seek context regarding the HOS provisions under review. We also hosted an open-discussion webinar to share findings from our aggregated ELD data and capture additional industry commentary.

 

3. Driver Retention

Moving up two spots from 2017, driver retention is a major concern in 2018, especially for large truckload carriers. The industry’s expected to experience the highest annual turnover rate since 2013. Combating this may dramatically increase recruitment and training costs, so motor carriers are exploring new retention strategies such as raising sign-on and retention bonuses.

ELD technology application: 
EROAD’s Leaderboard provides an inside view of your fleet based on key driver metrics, enabling you to set up effective driver training and reward programs. Our ELDs also help ensure vehicles receive regular maintenance, so your drivers can feel safer on the open road.

 

4. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate

Concern over the mandate’s implications have begun to drop after its first full year of implementation. Now, the industry is beginning to assess how ELD deployment is affecting industry safety and productivity, while some concerns remain like how the data collected may be used beyond HOS compliance.

ELD technology application: 
FMSCA says ELD compliance is extremely high. Hours of Service violations are dropping significantly, too. Carriers and drivers are seeing how ELD technology streamlines reporting in the most operationally efficient and secure manner. 
EROAD now offers driver training to streamline roadside inspections and reduce citations. Simplifying ELD use has great benefits to both carriers and drivers. Not only are roadside inspections simpler, the back-office HOS audits process is much easier — versus the headache inducing, messy paperwork hassles of the past.

 

5. Truck Parking

The growing challenge of less available truck parking presents both a dangerous and costly dilemma for truck drivers who may feel pressured to drive beyond the allowable HOS rules, and park in undesignated or unsafe spots.

Identifying new or expanded areas is proposed as well as educating the public of the negative impact of closing or not expanding public parking facilities to trucks. The ATA MCE report also states, “Educating state and local officials on the critical need for safe truck parking facilities could lead to new investments.”

Real-time truck parking information availability and truck parking reservation systems are also being considered.

ELD technology application: 
ELDs have magnified the need for additional parking. Drivers who are out of time are no longer able to fudge records if they can't find a place to park. Finding a safe place to park is extremely important to the safety of these drivers and other passengers on the road. ELD real-time location shows trends for specific areas where drivers are having trouble. Certain State Departments of Transportation are using other forms of technology that can easily and quickly let drivers know how many spaces are available at specific spots to reduce waiting time. 

 

6. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

Instead of revising the safety-scoring program proposed in 2015, the FMCSA is pursuing the recommendations proposed by the Congressionally-mandated National Academies of Sciences review of CSA. They include a carrier-rating system based on improving data collection and system transparency. The FMCSA also continues to accept Requests for Data Review for its Crash Preventability Demonstration Program.

ELD technology application: 
ELD data helps improve CSA scores because capturing quality data means greater knowledge about how your fleet is operating and cues you in on improvements that can be made to your safe driving program.

 

7. Driver Distraction

It’s crucial to identify solutions to the sobering driver distraction issue. The challenge now is finding ones that balance technology-related safety concerns with operational efficiency.

More aggressive enforcement of distracted driving violations is proposed for drivers of all vehicle types. Making this extra challenging, major differences still exist in how states define and enforce distracted driving laws. 

ELD technology application: 
Changing on-road driving behavior takes time. But if you haven’t noticed, it’s highly achievable. EROAD has proudly led the way in combatting driver distraction. Our ELD module is hardwired to the cab and simple to use. It eliminates the distractions that so many BYOD solutions create — and continue to create — with their companion phone interfaced systems.

In-cab technologies are proliferating throughout the trucking industry. It’s a major advancement. EROAD and others champion this approach for the wellbeing of all road travelers, not just truckers. 

Another advantage of ELDs, is built in. Carriers can encourage healthy competition between drivers. They can use driver ranking analytics such as EROAD Leaderboard to identify the top driver for the week and incentivize with vouchers. Or, offer one in a more formal driver rewards program.

 

8. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding

Roads are in disrepair. Congestion levels are at record levels. Still, it’s a mystery how the country will fund its transportation infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the wear and tear on vehicles, fuel waste, increased emissions, and extra driver stress all continue to negatively impact industry productivity. ATRI research estimates that in 2016 congestion-related delays alone cost the trucking industry $74.5 billion in added operational costs.

To obtain more highway funding, ATRI proposes more advocacy to raise the fuel tax or other direct user fees while countering revenue diversion to non-highway projects. As part of FHWA’s Transportation Performance Management, states are now required to identify and report on truck freight bottlenecks, so targeting this funding was also proposed.

ELD technology application: 
Actual data captured by ELDs can report factors that indicate excessive wear and tear on vehicles as well as fuel consumption. Intuitive and powerful fuel management capabilities help manage fuel transaction and identify trends. They can interpret fuel consumption and performance across a fleet, revealing where fuel efficiency may be improved.

 

9. Driver Health & Wellness

About 20% of drivers leave their jobs for health problems. Driver health and safety are directly related, so positive implications for industry safety could evolve from the addition of fitness facilities and healthy food choices at truck stops/travel plazas. Ensuring adequate breaktimes also plays a large role in this goal. More research into the ROI of wellness programs was also proposed.

ELD technology application: 
Drivers endure less stress using ELDs since the reporting is automatic with lower margins for error than with paper logging. We can also see how many breaks they actually take or skip. It’s all transparent with this proven proactive approach. Perhaps we’ll also see more fitness equipment and therapeutic massage clinics displacing unhealthy options at truck stops.

 

10. Economy

Much uncertainty still exists regarding the economy because of emerging trade disputes, especially between the U.S. and China. Many industry stakeholders depend on strong import and export activity to drive freight demand.

ELD technology application: 
EROAD products and solutions receive regular independent security testing; and, our policies and procedures are aligned to the internationally accepted practices for privacy, security, and information systems. We’re a global company and prepared for the roads ahead.