A variety of large truck trends are evolving the trucking industry and will likely reshape the way transportation of products occurs in the future. With more than 3.5 million truck drivers transporting almost 70 percent of all freight in the United States, these trends are expected to have a significant impact throughout the nation.
Trucking Industry Trends
There are a number of new regulations and trends that the general public and trucking accident attorneys as well as truck drivers and trucking companies should be aware of. Some of the most important include:
More Efficient Technology
Advances in technology could mean less large truck traffic for 2017. As new technologies gain popularity in the trucking industry, many truckers across the nation will begin to experience an entirely new way of life. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) will help ensure that drivers use the quickest, most efficient routes when making their deliveries, for example. Software that sorts and analyzes freight, drop-off and pick-up locations and times, and loads will make combining shipments more efficient and could potentially reduce the number of large trucks on the road.
Electronic Logging Devices
As of December 16, 2017, truckers nationwide will be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). These devices are designed to ensure that commercial drivers are in compliance with hours of service (HOS) regulations that reduce the risk for driver fatigue. Until recently, drivers were only required to log their hours on paper, often resulting in falsification and inaccuracy. The implementation of ELDs is expected to ensure that drivers’ logs are more accurate and that law enforcement officials can more efficiently review driver activity. Additionally, the reduction of paper logs is predicted to provide more than $1,000,000 in additional revenue. Many small- and medium-sized carriers, however, say that the ELD mandate will cost them as much as 5 to 8 percent in lost productivity. The cost of installing approved ELDs is also likely be financially burdensome for smaller companies.
Government Regulations on Trucking
A host of new government regulations are expected to shake up the trucking industry in 2017 and beyond. One change that is anticipated is a national truck driver drug testing information clearinghouse with hair-follicle drug testing. Since these tests will likely disqualify a large number of drivers due to positive results, many truck drivers’ unions are in protest of this change. Additionally, carbon emissions and other environmental regulations are expected.
Truck driver shortage has been a problem that has plagued the United States for many years, and autonomous trucks just might be the answer. In 2016, Uber sent a Budweiser beer shipment from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs by way of an autonomous truck, and various manufacturers across the globe are currently testing this new technology.
Truck Driver Shortage
As a number of truck drivers approach retirement age in 2017, the shortage of truckers is only expected to increase. And since trucking companies report that most of their applicants are not qualified to drive a commercial truck, there seems to be no end to the shortage in sight. Unfortunately, a lack of drivers will raise the risk for large truck crashes due to trucker inexperience, driver fatigue, and rushed deliveries.
Trump’s Impact on the Trucking Industry
With Donald Trump now officially the President of the United States, a number of changes are on the horizon that are expected to have a significant impact on the trucking industry. If he follows through on his plans to possibly end certain trade agreements like the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the large amount of domestic freight that comes from trade activity and is typically hauled over the road could be reduced.
The Effect of Trucking Trends on Accidents
Although the number of injury crashes has decreased over the past year, the number of fatality crashes has increased by about one hundred. It is hoped that the new trucking industry regulations, advances in technology and increased efficiency in transportation practices will reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities that occur.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large trucks are involved in approximately 87,000 injury crashes and about 4,000 fatality accidents every year. Trucking accident attorneys in Tennessee typically see numerous victims throughout their careers with severe injuries resulting from large truck crashes. When individuals are injured or killed in large truck crashes, truck drivers, trucking companies, and even manufacturers can sometimes be held liable. When the crash is the fault of the driver or defective equipment, victims and their families can recover damages for medical costs, pain and suffering and lost wages.