The trucking industry acts as a litmus test for the U.S. economy. According to Select USA 69% of the tonnage of goods is carried by road transportation. The current upward trend in the economy and the record fall in fuel prices have injected positivity into the trucking industry – and by extension, the national economy.
Freight numbers are growing, the tonnage index is going up, and of course more companies are adding additional trailers and trucks to their fleets. However, this growth has also brought some concerns which need to be addressed.
Many drivers shifted to other jobs during the recession starting in 2008. With the recent upsurge in transportation this has unfortunately created a shortage of qualified drivers. There are also new laws restricting in-service hours and the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. These pressures have further increased the demand for drivers, and the enhanced weight carrying capacity of trucks and trailers.
Truck driving can be very difficult and challenging. Things can change in a fraction of a second or in the blink of an eye. There are stretches where there are absolutely no other vehicles for miles, and there are spots where traffic is bumper to bumper, jammed, or subject to road closures.
The good news is that technology is making things easier and safer than ever before. Trucking companies, and any organizations with truck fleets, are happily investing in the technology and equipment which enhances driver safety.
Mobile technology has become an important tool for truck drivers. Developers have created lots of apps for various platforms to be used on handheld devices. Here are some mobile tools that are helpful in the day to day affairs of a truck driver.
Trucker Tools – The Trucker Tools app provides many features to make life for full-time and interstate truckers simpler and easier. Some of the most used features of the app include information about; the distance and direction of the nearest truck shops and rest areas; real time fuel prices; fuel optimizers; and quick info. about route restrictions.
FatSecret (Calorie Counter) – It can be difficult to find healthy eating options while driving in many parts of the USA. Truck drivers are working long shifts and have tight schedules. FatSecret allows drivers to combat unhealthy food. The app provids nutritional information for food found at road-side restaurants. It also lets users scan barcodes on packaged foods which counts daily calories, fat, and carbohydrates.
FleetSafer Mobile: Reading or typing text messages while driving can be fatal. This app eliminates the desire to text, email, browse the web, or answer calls by locking phones while driving. It keeps full attention on the road where it belongs. While it’s locked, FleetSafer sends auto-reply messages for all emails and texts.
Electric Logbooks, GPS Units, and Fleet Monitoring
Electronic logbooks and GPS units are useful, cost effective, and already quite common among truckers. In fact, according to the new ELD mandate they will also soon be required in most new vehicles by law.
These devices allows truck companies to monitor GPS locations of their entire fleet and keep an accurate log of hours for their drivers. Before electronic logbooks became commonplace, logbook tampering was a regular problem. Pressured by deadlines and employers, many drivers would drive over their daily limits – often resulting in the Department of Transportation (DOT) getting involved.
Electronic logging devices allow managers to take note of their drivers’ habits, throttle position, and even fuel consumption when combined with specialized sensors in the trucks.
Internet and connectivity technology in the form of 3G and 4G have done wonders for truckers – just as it has changed every aspect of all of our lives. Before mobile technology became popular and easily accessible, truck drivers would have to listen to radio shows, and helplines. They also had to communicate via short-wave radio to stay updated about traffic, road conditions, and weather. Now all the information they need to be comfortable and safe is only a touch away.
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