August 2018

Overdrive Magazine | Trucking Business News & Owner Operator Info

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/1009508

Contents of this Issue


Page 6 of 67

PULSE August 2018 | Overdrive | 5 When it comes to the pilot program that would allow military-trained under-21 CDL holders to drive across state lines (comments due by Sept. 4), forget for a moment its supporting argument of helping to ease what the trucking establishment portrays as a driver shortage. Consider instead tomorrow's drivers. From 1994 to 2013, trucking's share of 25- to 34-year-olds in the workforce across the nation dropped by more than half. That's partly because many older teens interested in a long-haul trucking career choose a different field because they don't want to wait until turn- ing 21 when they can run interstate. A more recent development is the concern that fully autonomous trucks will steal driving jobs from humans. Yet those grappling with the Level 3 and 4 transitions to full autonomy (Lev- el 5) with cars and commercial trucks now see the challenges more clearly. There have been too many accidents with semi-autonomous cars where an inattentive or presumptuous driver gambled too much. It could easily be a decade or two before autonomous trucks displace any significant numbers of drivers. In the meantime, and pos- sibly indefinitely, the operators of semi-auton- omous trucks will need more skills than today's drivers, not fewer. "The drivers will still need to have that driving skill, but they may also need to be able to do other things to help support the vehicle," says Fred Andersky, a customer relations direc- tor for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, which makes advanced truck safety systems. "So training becomes even more important as we move forward." Not only will operators need to assume driving control when needed, but they'll also need to be monitoring – and reacting to malfunctions within – the com- plex interplay of the systems that make autonomous driving possible: steering, braking, fol- lowing distance, lane departure, stability control, GPS, radar and vision. No doubt there will be even more technological advances and more integration of systems internally and with nearby vehicles and highway infrastructures. Even when Level 5 becomes a reality, Andersky says, it might not be a truly "driverless" system. Instead, "a pilot-type person" could be needed, simi- lar to an airline pilot overseeing a plane on autopilot. Trucking needs the best of the brightest potential drivers to fill these jobs of tomorrow and, ideally, today's jobs, too. Yet the best of the brightest are the first to find a lucrative career outside of driving when they hit a roadblock. Regulators should do what they can to remove such barri- ers. Require all the testing and supervised road time neces- sary to screen out unqualified younger drivers, but move forward with the trials to see if safety results measure up. mheine@randallreilly.com By Max Heine Editorial director is benefiting his own opera- tion, as he's often scheduled with several loads in advance. That's a result of what his principal broker contact is able to do with the information afforded to her in the broker's multifaceted scheduling and monitoring system, not direct- ly via his own access to their online portals for loads. "I like the personal touch there, working with one broker all the time," he says. Hop around chasing rates with brokers you've done scant business with – or multiple agents inside a large compa- ny – and "the broker doesn't know you. They're not going to give you a better deal" when the opportunity comes. "If you work with the guy long enough, they get to know you in person, and they can take care of you." Tim Lester is operations manager at DDH Trucking, a 40-truck flatbed fleet, mostly owner-operators. His take on relationship-building echoes Salmon's. Owner-ops are free to chase rates with the voice on the phone, he wrote, but "the relationship is what will get you loads when the market is soft." Lester gives the good times until this fall, maybe, before some turn. "The time will come when it is the relation- ship that keeps you moving at a fairly decent rate v. the 'one- and-done' marketplace now. I would rather give $50 back to the broker and keep getting load offers daily than gouge for all I can now and get noth- ing else from him again. … These other guys, they won't remember you from a can of paint." A proposed trial to allow military-trained drivers younger than 21 to drive trucks interstate could help stem the diversion of promising drivers into other careers. Skills for tomorrow

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Overdrive - August 2018