Trucking companies need more drivers, and smart, easy-to-use technology that makes trucking safer and more comfortable can get them on board.
Every trucking company outside of the behemoths who can offer industry-leading pay and regular schedules are facing driver shortages. Even when companies offer higher pay to compete, the shortage continues.
Every age cohort is affected.
Long-term drivers are finding an easier job or retiring early. They struggle to adapt to new technology. They're being asked to log their hours electronically, but many would rather retire than learn how to use this technology. In some cases, too much technology pushes drivers out of the business.
Meanwhile, new drivers simply don’t think being a hauler is an attractive job. The average age of a truck driver is about 49 years old — that's seven years older than the Bureau of Labor Statistics' average for the overall U.S. workforce. Younger drivers want to see trucks retrofitted with modern technology to offer a more comfortable and safer, technologically advanced ride.
While these groups have different complaints, the solution is the same -- update trucks with safe and user-friendly technology that allows fleets and owner operators to increase visibility of potential vehicle issues.
How technology can solve the driver shortage
The one-size-fits-all answer to this problem is installing safer, user-friendly technology that is operated by a true specialist – not by the drivers.
To satisfy all parties concerned, fleets need new technology plus the help of experts.
New drivers might be encouraged to drive with modern driving technology. They desire comfort and usability. For their part, long-term drivers will appreciate technology that's safe and overseen by the fleet maintenance team.
Digital improvements bolster vehicle service, support and safety, decreasing the likelihood of accidents without harming punctuality and efficiency. Here are a handful of safety-enhancing technology that will make life a lot easier for drivers and help bring in new talent.
● Comprehensive health-monitoring technology. Take some of the weight off drivers by upgrading to smart health-monitoring technology. This technology, which can be integrated in various parts of a truck, such as the wheel hub, takes in performance data on hubs, tires and brakes, and translates it into a dashboard that can be easily viewed and analyzed through an existing telematics provider. Overall, this will help fleets make more informed maintenance choices to improve uptime and keep drivers on the road.
● Air disc brakes supported by enhanced braking systems. Disc brakes provide safety and performance advantages, including limited brake fade and shorter stopping distances. When combined with an enhanced braking system, research finds fewer accidents and fewer compliance, safety and accountability violations. Over time, this will also reduce unplanned maintenance events.
● A robust asset-tracking toolkit. Another burden often placed on drivers is the asset-tracking process, which can be fully automated by giving fleets the power to create custom alerts and easily locate assets. In this streamlined process, fleets can also set up geofencing to trigger pre-programmed actions when trucks leave or enter a designated yard or distribution center, eliminating this task for drivers and improving overall uptime.
● Consider other ways to automate the monitoring of a truck's vitals. If you decide to invest in an automated health-monitoring system, you will want to cover all the bases, including:
○ In-line air pressure monitoring designed to quickly check air pressure during pre-trip and en-route inspections. Features include low-pressure and disconnection alerts.
○ Monitoring the safety and active health of tires, including air pressure alerts for under/over inflation and slow/fast leaks. This alone can save lives, prevent injuries, improve uptime, and extend tire life by years.
○ Ensuring a truck's weight is distributed equally across axles with an air-suspension based axle load monitoring system. You could use this technology before the driver even hops in the trucks by reviewing and making weight adjustments while the vehicle is stationary. This is a life-saving tool that also reduces fines and violations while on the road, keeping drivers focused on safe driving and on-time deliveries.
Ultimately, innovative technology can make fleets more competitive in retaining and recruiting drivers. Plus, these are worthwhile upgrades that will more than pay for themselves in the years to come.