King of the Road? 3 reasons to keep truckin’

  Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Commentary

2018 has been one hell of a year. It’s the year of the capacity crunch. It’s the year we’ve first experienced the implementation of this little thing called ELDs, which also strictly regulated hours-of-service. It’s been a historically positive and prolonged economic cycle. At the same time, there’s been a tech explosion in the freight scene, which it’s well-documented, was very overdue. Tech startups in logistics and transportation has been trending up for the past four years, with 2018 making investments at nearly $2 billion.

Even recent decisions coming out from California and New Jersey favor giving more independence to the individual contractor. While that’s not necessarily in the industry’s overall best interest, the point is, it’s time to get on the bus, Gus. It’s time to make a new plan, Stan. That’s right, we’ve got clearance, Clarence.

You can’t go wrong with a Paul Simon or Airplane reference every now and then.

The point is, it’s been a wild year, and while at times it may feel more like riding a bull than being “King of the Road,” just hang on a little longer. The times are changing and they’re changing fast. If you’re a driver you won’t have to constantly keep learning one newfangled thing after another. Right now, you probably are, but there’s a different kind of standard emerging, and it’s looking to be pretty cool too. In fact, you might even say, it’s going to be better than ever. It’s a new normal, and it looks to favor drivers for the foreseeable future.

Stick with me. 

1. Autonomous has nothing to do with your job security now—or ever 

First, let’s address this autonomous thing. The robots ain’t marching in like an army of intelligent clones ready to hop in your nearest fleet’s rig and start rockin’ down the highway with the Doobie Brothers kickin’ out the subwoofers. Autonomous is still coming slowly (and we’ll keep talking about each baby step), but it doesn’t mean a damn thing about how many drivers will be needed even when it is here. Even in a couple of decades when there are more autonomous applications, they’ll basically be enhancing what already needs to be done by humans. We’re here to stay, friends. Still need more data? Check out our latest article from the IAA Conference.

2. The new tech is your friend, not (just) your big brother 

We hear from telematics companies who are working every day on making life for the driver better. Some of them don’t want to be called telematics (that term is too 1990s for some), but whatever you call it, there are so many ways to improve your driving life, it’s hard to count the ways.  

The new IoT solutions are getting so granular with the data they’re actually going to help. How? They’re going to help you book loads. They’re here to help you increase your efficiency. They’re going to make it easier for drivers to use as well, and, in the end, they’re here to make driver’s lives easier. They’ll help with all the things you’ve heard.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of techies and visionaries putting their heads down every day and working on “solutions.” The solutions aren’t just for managers and those who want to keep tabs on you and tell you about your hard braking and fast accelerating. No, they’re for you too. They’re here to help you communicate with dispatchers in real time. They’re here to help you find parking ahead of time and/or better routes to take and when to take them. They’re here to help with predictive maintenance so you don’t end up finding yourself abandoned on the road for hours with a road alligator strewn along the highway or a seal that just went.

3. Rising pay is here to stay 

And saving the best for last, here’s some really good news: Even while there’s bound to be a softening in the market—and Goldman Sachs is predicting a slight softening in 2019—it’s also projected that the 12% rise in overall driver pay is here to stay. Hiring is also at an all-time high with 31,000 new hires this year so far. Is turnover still high? Yes, but that song may not remain the same.

Do carriers and brokers and shippers have a lot to figure out? You bet they do. But if you’re a driver, quit your bellyaching. No one said it would be easy, and if you stick with it, your rising pay is here to stay. Don’t believe me? Take it from the Goldman Sachs report.

If you’re an owner-operator and still a digital laggard, maybe it’s time to come out of the cold and come in where it’s warm. Yes, everyone’s doing it. It’s time to hop on the freight-tech train. It’s a wild ride either way, might as well make it one with a better future right out your windshield.