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Generations divide over role of fleets, governments in sustainability regulations

Convoy’s Sustainability Report highlights workforce tensions around stricter environmental regulations

The implementation of stricter environmental regulations is a topic of hot debate within the transportation industry ⁠— one with a fairly distinct generational divide. 

Convoy’s Sustainability in Trucking Snapshot Report, released in August, gathered feedback from 593 carrier respondents, 43% of which expressed neutrality regarding the tightening of government regulations for sustainability initiatives. However, twenty-five percent of those drivers with 20-plus years of experience claimed resistance to government intervention. 

“I love the phrase that we’re all captive to our own education and experience,” said FreightWaves’ Director of Carbon Intelligence Tyler Cole on Monday’s episode of Net-Zero Carbon on FreightWaves NOW. “If you’re a younger, newer workforce participant in the trucking industry, you have now seen more in the form of media coverage, news coverage and data that’s available to understand the problems of pollution and waste. They’re more intent on making that a part of their decision-making, where they go to work and how they spend their money.”

According to Cole, trucking companies have historically associated government involvement with the loss of revenue and operational freedom, but younger generations are emphasizing the dire consequences of ignoring climate change and acting accordingly, even if that means giving up some money and personal freedom. However, when it comes to regulations, fleet operators are already expending plenty of resources to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines and hours of service. 

“Where we will see increased regulation and scrutiny will happen not at the fleet operator level but will happen at the OEM level,” said Cole. “We’ve already seen some of those come down through the clean fuel standard in California, where we’re seeing some national markets regulate the carbon intensity of the fuel mix. All of that happens upstream from the carriers’ decision-making.”

Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.