Relay trucking could be the answer to improving truckers’ work/life balance, preventing accidents, and saving lives. According to the FMCSA and NHTSA, fatigued and overworked drivers cause most commercial truck crashes. The FMCSA requires drivers and carriers to observe implemented hours of service regulations. Even with those limits, drivers often work long shifts with few or no breaks and are under pressure to meet deadlines are more prone to causing accidents.
What is Relay Trucking?
Truckers who engage in point-to-point, full-truckload freight loads have a tough job. They stay with the freight from the time it has been loaded on their rig until they reach the load’s destination. The truckers spend long hours on the road and often days away from their homes and families. The FMCSA requires drivers to take breaks, and their rigs are outfitted with electronic monitoring to keep track of driving and rest hours. However, driver fatigue still happens.
Less-than-full loads use a hub and spoke system where trucks are changed at different hubs along the freight’s journey. But this method is too costly and time-consuming for full loads. However, relay trucking, a new approach suggested by researchers at Oregon State University could improve the quality of life for truckers and save lives. This new method would rely on a large-scaled mixed fleet dispatching system.
With relay trucking, the length of a trucker’s full-load trip could be reduced by 66 percent without delaying the delivery process. While a driver gets the rest he needs, another driver along the relay route would take over at the specified relay point and take the load to the next relay point and so on until the destination is reached. Theoretically, this method could be more efficient because the freight is constantly moving, shortening delivery times.
Relay Trucking Can Help Save Lives
According to the IIHS, in 2016, 3,986 people died in large truck accidents. Other drivers or passengers on the road accounted for 66 percent of those deaths. Truckers are required to comply with federal regulations of driving no more than 11 hours at a stretch, but some violate the law and go longer than 11 hours. This increases their risk of causing an accident from driver fatigue. Relay trucking would reduce the number of hours a trucker would drive, reduce driver fatigue and help save lives.