With the digital age being well underway, it is no surprise that new innovations are being infused into the trucking industry. These are a few of the ways that the future of tractor trailer operation will be impacted by technological advancement.
The autonomous driving frenzy has unsurprisingly struck the trucking industry. Automated systems such as changing speed, braking, and steering are already being incorporated into vehicles. Soon more complex tasks such as changing lanes and exiting highways will also be automated with many more to come in the near future.
The concern tractor trailer operators have is that the popularity of autonomous vehicles will eliminate the need for drivers altogether and leave them unemployed. This is, in fact, far from the truth. “Drivers’ jobs will become like that of airline pilots”, says James Jaillet of Overdrive, “…not only watching the vehicle but overseeing a variety of sophisticated systems.” Without the burden of steering or changing speed, drivers will take on a more administrative role in the new autonomous vehicles. New responsibilities would include coordinating with other drivers, negotiating loads, monitoring diagnostics systems, and optimizing routes. The driver will still hold a vital role in the transportation process and will not be replaced by automated systems.
Independence with Ease
Many younger individuals involved in the trucking industry wish to gain independence from large corporations. As stated by Dennis Brannon, a former owner-operator based in South Carolina, “The Millennials want to be more independent. They want flexibility. They’re tired of working for the man”. Thanks to new improvements, this process could be right around the corner. New technology is being developed to make the business processes of independent contracting available to most anyone. This mobile software will allow for management of load negotiation, invoice collection, tax accounting, and profit analysis all at the touch of a button. With broad availability and simplistic design, independent contracting will be easier and more attainable than ever.
Safety Improvements in the Trucking Industry
Innovations in the field of biomonitoring have grown exponentially and its applications in the trucking industry are being discovered everyday. Biomonitoring for truckers would include a variety of different technologies to keep drivers safe and attentive. Heart rate and stress monitors could be attached to drivers to determine their stress level, state of health, and level of consciousness. This could alert drivers when they are about to fall asleep and report if they are feeling overly stressed or ill. This kind of technology would ensure the safety of the driver and potentially protect against fatal accidents caused by fatigue or impairment.
Distracted driving is a major issue in today’s society. According to the National Safety Council, 26% of all traffic accidents are caused by distracted driving. These incidents often result in death and life-altering injury. To combat this issue in the trucking industry, steps are being taken to install heads-up monitors that could detect if a driver is becoming distracted while behind the wheel. Regulators could inspect these monitors, providing incentive for truckers to forego driving distracted.
In theory, this increased focus on the well-being of drivers and safety behind the wheel will drastically reduce the quantity of traffic accidents and fatalities in the trucking industry.