Throughout the year, we have made many trucking industry predictions regarding technology and the future for drivers. Some of the topics we discussed were the inevitability of driverless trucks, the DOT speed limiter proposal, and updating transportation infrastructure.
In 2016, Uber’s self-driving truck, Otto, made its first delivery of 50,000 beers, and companies, like Amazon, made fully autonomous air deliveries using drones. With transportation advances like these, it seems that many of our predictions could come into fruition in the near future.
Exploring 2017 Trucking Industry Predictions
But we’re still some years out from a future of fleets of fully autonomous and self-driving transport. So, what is it that drivers need to know now, and not 10 years from now? Let’s explore a few trucking industry predictions that will change the trucking industry in 2017.
Uncertainty Under a New Presidency
This is not so much of a prediction as a fact. With many unsure of what President-elect Trump will bring to the trucking industry, it’s hard to know what will happen. There has been a trend of states adopting legislation that require the transport industry to lower emissions to help the environment. Will Trump’s administration loosen these regulations? Many people in the industry seem to think so.
The new administration also brings a cloud of uncertainty over much-proposed legislation. What does the future of the DOT truck size-weight study hold? We may see Republican lawmakers roll back safety regulations to keep tired drivers off the road.
As many hold their breath waiting to see what the new administration will bring, only one thing is for certain: uncertainty.
(Reintroducing) The Electric Vehicle
In 2016, carmakers reintroduced electric vehicles in a big way. Companies like GM and Tesla changed the electric car playing field with the release of the highly affordable and high-performance electric vehicles. The GM model should release by the end of the year, while Tesla’s new model is looking at a 2019 release date.
These vehicles are fast and highly efficient with the ability to travel over 200 miles on a single charge. They have changed the way that commercial automakers are making their vehicles too. Commercial carmakers are feeling the pressure from the start-ups poised to change the transport industry.
This is one of our top trucking industry predictions because we already see the industry making changes. Large corporate fleet owners have already been looking into new oil blends, biodiesels, and hybrid or electric fleets.
Also, environmental regulations will play a major part in the adoption of electric vehicles. There is uncertainty with the new presidency to begin soon, but states like California have been implementing emission rules that other states may follow.
Empowered Truck Drivers
America’s 3.5 million truck driver’s jobs aren’t quite under threat from self-driving vehicles yet. In 2017, we should all expect to see more tools to make truck drivers’ jobs more efficient.
We already see truck drivers outfitted with in-cab dash cameras that have been useful in proving that many truck drivers in accidents are not at fault, especially in fatal trucking accidents. Trucks already have technologies to collect data about the functions of the car, recording things like harsh breaks before accidents.
This year, you should expect to see more drivers with more technology in their cabs to assist them. We will see alert systems that will notify a driver if they are veering out of their lane or will beep if a driver shows signs of drowsiness. We will see more logistics software available for drivers so they are able to ease the process of loading and unloading for pickup and deliveries.
This is one of those trucking industry predictions that, if proved true, will find pushback from drivers, at least at first. The average truck driver is not looking to have more monitoring or tracking while they are on the road. However, when truck drivers realize the beneficial tech will help them do their jobs better, they will be more willing to adopt and use it.
The Decline of Delivery Drivers
While self-driving cars won’t be quite ready to get drivers off the road in 2017, the decline of delivery drivers is something to watch for in 2017. As mentioned before, companies like Amazon are now making deliveries via drone, and Uber is delivering beer – no humans necessary.
Through the beginning of the year, we will continue to see this uberization in trucking. Companies will deliver various types of commodities for consumers and organizations using autonomous vehicles, drones, or robots. These are efficient and cost-effective ways to deliver things without paying a human to do so.
Look for companies to invest in innovative technologies that allow them to save labor costs on deliveries. By the end of 2017, I predict that in the transport industry, we will see less delivery drivers overall. Some drivers will travel locally with drones or robots that will do actual deliveries. Drivers will take more a logistic manager role making sure packages go where they should.