How the Trucking Industry Has Changed and What Might Happen Next
The concept and function of the trucking industry has not drastically changed but within the industry there has been a lot of changes. New technology, regulations and new ways to transport cargo had to be introduced because of the global pandemic. Some of those new methods will stay around and some of them will go to the wayside now that there are less restrictions.
Electronic Log Books
In the past decade one of the biggest changes in the trucking industry is the introduction of electronic log device (ELD) being mandatory according to federal law. In the United States, the law was passed in 2016 and in neighboring Canada the law was passed in 2021.
Prior to the ELD law being passed, drivers would log their driving hours in paper log books that could be reviewed. With the introduction of ELDs it creates a safer working environment and allows companies to accurately track, manage and share drivers records with more ease.
Over the past three years or so there has been a significant increase in independent drivers out on the road. Reports show there has been an increase of over 75% of drivers with one truck who are for hire, that is over 130,000 trucks in the United States alone. It is believed that the motivation for truckers to do this is because of the increase of spot market rates, more money can be made plus the appeal of independence. Companies have recognized the pay increase and appeal and have recently significantly increased their ‘pay per mile’ rates.
Energy Efficient Trucks
It has been reported that the trucking industry contributes about one fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. With the increase of the threat to global warming, the trucking industry, along with many industries, are finding ways to decrease their carbon footprint. One way the trucking industry is doing this is by slowly introducing electric trucks and using low-emission trucks that may replace diesel trucks one day.
Predictions for the Future
Of course, it is hard to know exactly what is going to happen in the future with the trucking industry. Experts see trends happening, some might be obvious and some less obvious. With advances in technology evolving everyday energy-efficient and automated trucks will continue to change the trucking industry. It is hard to predict exactly what regulations and economic changes will impact the industry but they will for sure. With there being such a shortage of professional truck drivers and fuel prices soaring, man power and costs will continue to be a challenge in the future.
If you are a truck driver currently, staying informed can help to navigate the future whatever challenges and changes come for the trucking industry.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of pressure when truck drivers are on the road. The pressure to meet tight deadlines, stay alert and stay safe on the road. From the outside, it may look like it is an easy job that allows a driver to have freedom on the road while making money but it is not always the case. Truck drivers need a break, it is good for their mental health.
Mental health is a major concern for trucker drivers that is not always talked about enough. Long hours alone on the road, without a lot of physical movement or conversation can take a toll on a driver’s mental health. Burnout, which is described as energy depletion or exhaustion with increased feelings of negativism or loneliness and reduced professional efficacy, has a higher chance of affecting drivers and often goes unnoticed or is ignored. There are a number of steps that can be taken to avoid burnout, including making sure drivers get home on a regular basis. Another important step, is for the driver to pay attention to their thoughts and feelings as well as the company checking in with drivers regularly to see if they are managing on the road.
Everyday drivers are dealing with issues beyond their control such as road construction, weather, the unpredictability of other drivers on the road and lack of sleep due to long days. There is a lot of stress on the road and with lack of sleep it is harder to deal with stress in a healthy way. When drivers are on the road they should consider taking actions that they can control to support their mental and physical well-being:
• Create a driving schedule that includes short breaks in order to get fresh air and physical movement • Plan ahead with snacks/meals that will fuel your body and mind and help to support your mental and physical health • Avoid using drugs and alcohol to deal with stress • Use technology to connect with family and/or mental health professionals
With all the stress truck driving brings, it is important to get a break. A real break, not just the hours that are required for a reset that are often spent in the truck. That is not a real break. Plan your vacation days far in advance so that you, your family and your company are prepared for it. It will give you something to look forward to while you are on the road. Studies show that at least a 5-day break is critical to supporting mental health, increasing productivity and avoiding burnout.
Some truck drivers prefer driving at night when the roads are quieter with less traffic. There are definitely pros and cons to driving at night. Sometimes it is a choice and sometimes you cannot avoid it. Whether you choose to drive at night or have no choice but to do it, we wanted to gather up a few tips that might help.
Make sure all the lights on your truck are in good working order and clean. This includes the identification, clearance, reflectors, marker and taillights. Not only should you make sure they are working when you start your journey you should double check periodically while you are on the road. As important as it is for your truck to be seen, if you need to get out of the truck make sure you can be seen. Wear a high visibly vest when you need to get out of the truck.
Not only is important to be seen, it is important to be heard. Make sure that your horn is in good working order so that if people cannot see you on the road, they can hear you. You could also carry a whistle incase of emergency. It is easy to alert anyone around you quickly if you are caught by surprise.
Plan for a few stops throughout the night, a chance to stop and stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Use caution when you stop at rest areas, be aware of your surroundings.
A few other steps that can help to fight fatigue during the night is to eat light and as healthy as possible. Greasy, high-carb food will only make you more tired. Have a plan to get a good sleep during the day when you do have a break. Keep the temperature on the cooler side inside the cab.
Another tip that might help is to find something to entertain you without distracting you. Some of your favorite music or an interesting podcast would be a good example.
Watch Your Speed
It is always imperative to watch your speed on the road but it is even more critical at night. Often roads have lower speeds posted in the night. Make sure that you are respecting the posted speed limits and slow down if the conditions are not ideal. Be cautious of other drivers too, it is more likely for drunk and distracted drivers to be on the road at night.
Driving in the dark, can be done safely but extra strategies should be considered. Hopefully, some of the advice above will help you get to your destination on time and safely.
A live load simply means that the driver waits for the load to be loaded and unloaded and then continues his trip with the same trailer. The pros to live loads are that they can save time for shippers, shippers do not require space to store the containers and no shunting truck is required.
For many drivers, the cons to live loads is that they have to wait for their trailer to be loaded and unloaded. This can be considered a ‘waste of time’ for drivers as the wait time can be up to 2 hours. When this is happening, a driver is usually just sitting idle. For the shippers, if there is a delay in loading or unloading trailers, they can incur detention fees. If the process is not running smoothly, it can cause a que of trucks or a backlog which is a con for both the shipping company and the driver.
When the live load strategy is used drivers must book an appointment before they show up at the shipper’s location to be loaded or unloaded. Live loads are most commonly used when the shipper does not have enough space to hold loaded or unloaded trailers, the driver does not have a load to take out with them or a shortage of man power.
Drop and Hook Loads
Drop and hook loads are exactly what they sound like. A driver simply drops off their loaded trailer and picks up another trailer that is ready to go from the shipping location. This can save the driver a couple hours at each drop off/pickup location which can add up once the driver is done his shift. The other advantage to the drop and hook model is that it allows for more flexibility for the shipper. It gives them more time to load and unload trailers without the pressure of a driver waiting for them.
If the trailer they are picking up is ready and in position it can be a quick and easy transition but the reality is, that is not always the case.
Often times, a driver will have to wait for the trailer to come from a different location or be brought to a position where the driver can get access to be able to hook the trailer up. If it is a heavier load or the driver is not familiar with difficult dolly handles, this can also cause a delay. The drop and hook model becomes tricky for owner/operators as they are often personally own their trailer so it would not make sense for them to leave it there to take another one. Drop and hook works best for large enterprises with a large fleet.
No matter which way you look at it, there are advantages and disadvantages to both the live load and drop and hook model. As a driver, you may have experience with both and likely have a preference but cannot always control what model you use for the job.
There is no doubt that winter is the most difficult
season to drive in. Driving in snowy and icy conditions is unavoidable as a
truck driver at times. Since winter is not going anywhere, we thought we would
provide some tips and tricks to help avoid any accidents or downtime in the
cold winter months.
Relax and slow down
When road conditions start to get wet, slippery and
snowy it is important to adjust your speed accordingly. If the road conditions
start to worsen as you are driving remember to relax and do not panic. Do not
follow other drivers to close be sure that you give yourself enough reaction
time to avoid accidents. If you get to the point that you feel like you cannot
drive anymore find a safe place to pull over and wait until conditions get
Winter Operation Training
As a responsible driver, it is important that you take the time to have proper safe winter operation training. Learning maneuvering and skid control skills are essential in having a safe and successful winter. Be sure that you understand where your tire pressure should be in different climates. A set of chains can always be helpful and in some states and provinces is actually mandated by law. Proper tire pressure can make a big difference on the road when there is snow or ice.
A complete and proper check is critical when weather conditions are less than perfect. Be sure that your defroster and heater are functioning at 100%. Be sure your wipers are working well and all of your fluids are topped up. It is also important that your mirrors and windows are clean before setting off for the day. Keep your lights cleans so you can be seen and take every opportunity to fill your fuel tank.
Know Before You Go – Be Prepared
Check the road conditions before you set off. Check with other drivers who may have just come off the roads that you are heading to. Be sure you check in with someone so they know where you are when possible. Keep your truck supplied with food, drinks, and proper winter clothing so that in the event you get stranded you will have your basic needs. Do not leave your truck if you become stranded or stuck.
Remember, there is no load that is worth risking your life or the life of others on the road. Even the most experienced drivers need to pull over in a safe location and wait for the road conditions to get better.
With fuel prices fluctuating these days, increasing your fleet’s fuel efficiency is one important strategy to increase your bottom line. Here we will explore steps you can take, to do just that, increase fuel efficiency for your truck.
Although it may feel more efficient to drive faster because you will get there faster, slowing down is a good option not only for fuel efficiency but also for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Studies show for drivers in the United States, every 1 MPH you drive faster than 55 MPH there will be a 0.01 decrease in your miles per gallon (MPG). In Canada, for every kilometer you drive over 88 KMH, you will decrease your kilometers per litre by 0.004. This may not seem like much but when you are driving thousands of kilometers or miles a week this can add up quickly.
Tires play an important role in fuel consumption. It is recommended to choose tires that have low rolling resistance and that they are always properly inflated. It takes approximately 35,000 to 50,000 miles for tires to be properly broken in and at their prime fuel efficiency. Broken in tires that are properly inflated can increase your fuel efficiency by 7%.
Reduce Air Conditioner Use
These small steps can make a large impact on the amount of fuel you are using and the amount of money that is being spent on your biggest expense, fuel.
Reduce Idle Time
In the trucking world, there are times that it is not possible to avoid idling but when you can you should. For each hour your motor is running and you are not moving it will decrease your fuel efficiency by 1%.
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