Top 3 Challenges Of The Trucking Industry in 2018… And Beyond

Truck Driver ShortageThe trucking industry faces a lot of challenges on a daily basis. And every few months there seem to be new rules being enacted, drafted up or talked about. In actuality, the majority of the time, it is less discussion and more stress.

But did you know that there are 3 really big challenges that freight drivers face more than any other?

That’s right, and in this article, we will be discussing what these 3 big challenges are, and hopefully, it will give you some insight into areas of your own company that you should be keeping a close watch on as we are in an ever-changing landscape. And even more so of the past year.

So, if you are ready to dive in, let’s jump in…


ELD Mandate

One of the hottest and most widely debated subjects this year was the ELD Mandate.

The Electronic Logging Device Mandate, ELD Mandate for short, is a bill that was passed back in December 2015 and finally met its deadline in December 2017. Since then it has hit the trucking industry pretty hard.

In a nutshell, this new bill requires all companies, nationwide, to install or otherwise implement electronic logging devices in their freight trucks. The intention of this is to electronically record a drivers Record of Duty Service to make sure that they stay compliant with all HOS requirements.

It has now been in effect for almost an entire year now and it is not off to a good start and has met with severe criticism from numerous parties. For more about those criticisms and the reasons behind the big fuss, check out this article posted on the JOC website.


Hours of Service

The Hours of Service rules are an increasingly difficult challenge to shipping companies the nation over.  It has been a thorn in the side of this industry since the day it was implemented.

When you have an important delivery to make on an already tight deadline, the last thing you want to do is have to pull over to a station to take a full 8-hour nap in your sleeper berth. But this is exactly what drivers must do according to the HOS.

Oh, and per the HOS rule… this must be a consecutive 8 hours. Many companies have fought against this very issue, many of them holding the viewpoint that the rules should give more flexibility to drivers. Ideally, drivers should be able to sleep when they are tired, split up throughout the day, so long as those hours still total up to 8 before the end of a 24-hour period.

This one rule has already cost shipping companies thousands of dollars in lost time, slowed shipping times, and highly stressed drivers trying to make sure they can make their delivery without having to skirt around the rules.


Truck Driver Shortage

Right now there is a massive shortage of freight drivers and even fewer drivers who are capable of taking on cross-country jobs.

It is estimated that somewhere in the range of about 51,000 more drivers are needed to meet the consistently raising demands from large corporations across the nation. We are so short on drivers at the moment that the American Trucking Associations has already come out and said this problem is only going to get worse. If this employment landslide continues at the pace it is going, that would put us at a driver shortage in the range of about 150,000 by 2020.

This shortage is due to a number of factors such as a generation that is less interested in driving trucks for a living, low pay rates, and the aging of drivers that we have left. The big one for most potential drivers is the low salaries involved with the median income not usually being much more than $50,000-ish per year. And it is the long-haul drivers that this problem is affecting the most.

While this is a major problem, it could be easily remedied in my opinion. Drivers need better incentives to get them interested in pursuing a career in driving. If we can just incentivize the field a little more, we can surely turn things around for the better.

The truck driver shortage is actually a topic that we have covered previously right here on the Redwood Logistics blog. If you get a chance and want to know more about this specific issue, you can read our blog post here.


Final Thoughts

The trucking industry has always been one that faces an ever-changing landscape rife with new rules every few months, fewer drivers each year, and surmounting costs as demand for drivers goes up while the supply goes down.

If we do not start having some serious discussions about all of these issues, they are only going to get worse as time goes on.

2018 is almost over; can we turn things around in 2019? We will see.