For me, 2015 has flown by. I feel like it was just yesterday I was ringing in the new year and before I know it, I’ll already be giving up on another year’s overly-ambitious resolutions.
2015 was a year filled with everything from a British Airlines flight that had to turn back because of “smelly poo” to the craziness of having a reality TV star thinking it’s a good idea to throw himself into the presidential race. For those involved in the transportation industry, there have been some pretty fundamentally dire things that have occurred this year so far.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) presented the following critical issues in the trucking industry:
For a third year in a row HOS rules run supreme on the list of major issues in the industry. This comes as no surprise to any of us especially when taking into account that ATRI’s research showed that 80% of motor carriers believed their 34-hour restart provisions brought huge losses of productivity. However, in December 2014 they suspended those provisions but there will remain to be major concern over reinstatement as we eagerly await FMCSA‘s results of their study.
2. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
FMCSA is constantly working to improve safety measures in the trucking industry. Unfortunately, research has found that compliance, safety and accountability measures like the seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) were actually not even a good way to predict the risk of crashes. Plus, states don’t collect or report the data about safety the same way anyway. In 2016, we should continue to push for better accountability for crashes and a better process for knowing when crashes are preventable such as being hit by an impaired driver, being hit while parked, being hit by a reckless driver, accidents from animals in road and collisions that involve a pedestrian trying to commit suicide by being struck by a truck.
3. Driver Shortage
As of now, the American Trucking Association has reported that the current driver shortage is roughly at 48,000. Worse yet, they have projected that it will be as large as 175,000 by 2024. ATRI proposed a few strategies to help the situation like working with the state and federal authorities to try to get a graduated CDL program in place to bring in fresh young drivers. It’s important to get young people in the industry because 45% of trucking hires are replacing retired drivers and a quarter of the drivers out there are over 55 years old.
4. Driver Retention
Turnover rates in trucking are some of the highest for the U.S. workforce and can especially be dangerous in an industry that already has issues with a shortage of drivers. Some proposed strategies against this issue such as encouraging carriers to put into place programs that improve people’s work/life balance, relationships with families, and healthy lifestyles. Also, there should be more research done to study the relationship between compensation and driver productivity.
5. Truck Parking
Spaces are so sparse that it’s becoming a downright dangerous problem for drivers who have to break HOS riles or resort to parking in unsafe locations. There is a critical need to research this issue and invest in creating new parking facilities. Additionally, we should see how new technology like parking lot finder apps can help drivers find spots to pull over.
6. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate
Last March FMCSA issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) to help hush some of the concerns industry stakeholders had about the first proposed ELD rule.
7. Driver Health/Wellness
Obvious disadvantages in this industry including lifestyles that are unfavorable for sustaining typical health. And these health implications have a dangerous correlation with their physical well-being and driver safety. 2016 should be a year that we encourage travel plazas to provide healthy dining options as well as adding facilities for exercise. Companies should also consider establishing driver incentives to encourage their employees to be mindful of their physical state.
Although no longer as big of an issue as it was in former years such as during the recession, it’s still a concern that softer freight demand and concerns about the economies over in Asia and Europe could have a significant effect on the transportation industry as we roll into 2016.
Traffic jams have cost the trucking $9.2 billion in 2013. Yikes that’s a lot of cash to be squandering while in bumper to bumper conditions through the country’s 4.1 million miles of public roadways.
10. Driver Distraction
Arriving in 2014’s list for the first time, driver distraction has been a recent phenomenon due to the increased dependency we have on technology. I’d place money betting that this problem will definitely appear on lists like this for the coming years. And, with an impending ELD mandate, there will be even more technology going on inside our cabs that it seems it only is going to get worse unless we identify solutions.