With roughly 3.5 million truck drivers collectively moving nearly 70% of all freight tonnage in the U.S. change is inevitable. 2017 brings a slew of trends that will shape the future of this essential industry.
1. Efficient Tech
Efficient technologies will surely gain popularity in the transportation sector due to the world of ever-changing tech. Combining shipments and ensuring your drivers are finding the quickest routes will be the focus of 2017. GPS technologies, ELD requirements, and efficient vehicles will be the driving force for this new year.
2. Government Regulations
The transportation industry is full of limiting regulations that call for trucking executives to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest changes. One major anticipated change is a national driver drug-testing information clearing house and hair follicle-based drug tests - driver unions are very against this due to the number of drivers that will be disqualified by positive drug tests.
Other changes such as the implementation of electronic logging devices, carbon emissions regulations, along with other environmental regulations will continue to shake up the industry. Be on your toes for the regulations brought forth in the new year.
3. Self-Driving Trucks
Self-driving trucks may feel like an innovation that is years into the future, but they may be something we see more of this year. In 2016, Uber purchased a San Francisco startup that produces self-driving trucks known as Otto and recently sent a Budweiser beer delivery from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs by autonomous truck.
Across the world, Chinese Internet company, Baidu, unveiled its semi-autonomous Super truck, while Daimler tested a driverless truck platoon in Germany.
4. New Age Workforce
The war on talent rages on into 2017 with driver shortage continuing to be a major concern for fleets. With more drivers moving towards retirement the industry will leave a need for new drivers to fill their place.
On the opposite end, a major issue facing the trucking industry is the quality of applicants. Those entering into the field rarely meet the standards required. According to a recent study by the ATA, 88% of carriers say most of their applicants are not qualified to drive a truck.
5. Driver Pay Increases
Drivers will experience an uptick in pay over 2017. The current average salary for an over-the-road trucker is $51,000 and $73,000 for a private-fleet trucker according to the ATA. With driver pay steadily increasing over the past few years, 2017 will be no different. Drivers have become a scarce commodity with turnover hanging strong at around 90%. Keeping your drivers around with better pay will prove beneficial.
6. Rising Transportation Costs
The cost of shipping will certainly increase in the new year and will continue to increase in the future. Fuel prices continue to hit carriers as a major expense while calling for operating on thin margins - something that proves to be a challenge for many carriers. Stronger ways to manage expenses will be a top priority in 2017.
7. Trump's Trucking Impact
With Trump entering the oval office, many changes are on the horizon for trucking. With the potential ending of certain trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - motor carriers could be at risk. A large amount of domestic freight hauled by trucks comes from trade activity.
On the flip side, trucking may experience a change in regulations with several proposed rules such as the speed limiter mandate, but other rules such as the ELD requirement will most likely be left alone.