Trucking has long been an essential industry for delivering the goods that make our modern society function. The fundamentals of what truckers do have remained the same for decades: move goods from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.
Yet, the industry hasn’t been immune to changes that impact how truckers fulfill that core purpose. Advancements in the trucking industry may not be able to make the miles shorter, but they are making things easier and safer, thanks to improved technology.
Some of these improvements are being mandated, others are being integrated into vehicles by manufacturers, and a few are being adopted by carrier companies looking for an edge over their competitors.
Better Trucking Through New Technology
Let’s take a moment to review some of the different types of technology that are playing a role in improving the lives of truck drivers and helping to make commercial carriers more efficient and profitable. How many are you and your drivers using now, and how many are you planning to adopt?
Fleet Management Software
As carriers expand their operations and grow their fleets, managing their vehicles effectively becomes a greater challenge. Telematics and other fleet management software and technology can provide vital, up-to-date data about the status of individual vehicles such as GPS coordinates and ETA’s. It eliminates guesswork and improves the ability of dispatchers and fleet managers to plan routes, schedule maintenance, and provide support to drivers by identifying areas for improvement and coaching.
The vehicle diagnostics available through fleet management software can help fleet managers catch maintenance issues before they become a problem and avoid costly breakdowns. Fuel consumption can be monitored and such issues as lengthy idling times can be flagged and reduced, saving on fuel costs and engine wear.
Trucking companies can also use the data from fleet management software to resolve disputes about arrival times for shipments. In the case of accidents, this data, along with dashcam footage, can provide vital information to support driver accounts and reconstruct the chain of events that establish where fault lies. This can save huge amounts by avoiding accident claims resulting in costly settlements and higher insurance premiums.
Applicant Tracking Systems
Of course, one of the biggest headaches in the trucking industry is managing the driver shortage that affects most carriers. For recruiters, technology, in the form of applicant tracking systems such as TruckRight’s online software solution, is making life easier.
From tracking the success of job boards in terms of actual hires to automated drip campaigns to quick apps with knockout questions, ATS solutions can be leveraged to increase communication with potential recruits and target the drivers you actually want to hire.
Paperless DQ Files
Gone are the days of spreadsheets and multiple filing cabinets filled with thick file folders of paperwork to track all the documents needed to recruit, hire, and manage a team of truck drivers. Instead, all DOT required documents are auto-generated and can be accessible from anywhere on the road via laptop or mobile device.
Drivers can keep on top of license renewals through notifications. And HR personnel can include documentation such as company policy manuals for truck drivers to review anywhere or deliver online training to drivers without bringing them off the road for in-person learning.
Additionally, processes such as the Annual Review can be made infinitely easier. Gone are the days of taking three weeks to do an Annual Review. Good systems will automatically fill in an Annual Review and send a notice to drivers to sign it. Then when it’s Safety’s turn, they get a notification to review and sign.
In-Cab Monitoring Systems
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that human error, due to mistakes like speeding, fatigue and drunk and distracted driving, is responsible for 94 percent of vehicle crashes.
Far from being a means of spying on drivers, in-cab cameras have helped to detect driver fatigue and distraction. Paired with artificial intelligence to assess a driver’s visual attention or level of drowsiness, such tools only record when signs of fatigue or distraction are detected. Armed with that data, trucking companies are able to coach drivers as to when to take breaks to be sufficiently rested and alert, and on the importance of reducing distractions.
While monitoring systems have certainly sparked debate, their effectiveness as a tool to improve safety has delivered great results. Within months of installing an in-cab monitoring system, one trucking company saw a 67 percent reduction in fatigued driving events, a 40 percent reduction in distracted driving events, and a 97 percent reduction in cellphone use.
Electronic Logging Devices
Just like in-cab cameras, Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) have been a subject of heated debate. Their value in eliminating hardcopy paperwork and speeding up drivers’ workflows and efficiency as a result will likely win over naysayers in the end.
ELDs can benefit drivers by reducing the amount of time they spend on paperwork, while also improving accuracy. With less paperwork to fill out, roadside inspections can be expedited to go more quickly. The use of ELDs is also reducing the number of Hours of Service (HOS) violations by tracking time and offering alerts. The drivers are still in control, but there’s less clock-watching needed for them to maintain compliance.
For carrier companies, ELDs offer a means to track mileage and other data that can help with controlling expenses. They also make it possible to monitor where drivers are, eliminating the need for check calls that can be a potential distraction.
Vehicle Safety Technology
Increasingly, auto manufacturers are building technology into their vehicles to increase safety and improve the driving experience. As with cars and light trucks, lane departure systems, automatic emergency braking systems, and video-based onboard safety monitoring systems are being integrated into large trucks.
These systems detect potential issues and assist drivers in situations where they may be drifting out of a lane, or are in danger of striking a vehicle ahead of them. Benefit-cost analyses of these systems concluded that their use in large trucks could potentially prevent as many as 100,000 crashes per year.
The Pace of Change is Up to You
Likely your company is familiar with these technological improvements, adopting some or all of these systems into your vehicles and workflow. While some drivers may be set in their ways, resisting the pace of change, there are just as many, especially millennial truck drivers, who are more accustomed to using technology in their day-to-day lives.
Eventually, all truckers and carrier companies will come to view today’s tech as indispensable tools for doing their jobs safely and efficiently with as much ease as the miles will allow. How quickly you and your team get there, is up to you!
If you’re still running into issues that arise from paper documents and complicated filing systems to manage your truck driver recruiting, onboarding and compliance needs and would like to explore other options, talk to us. We’re happy to show you how easy your life can be using TruckRight’s uncomplicated online software solution.