How the Trucking Industry Has Changed in the Past Decade

The Transwest Team
The Transwest Team
Sep 07, 2021
Man working on tablet

In the last ten years, services provided by the trucking industry have remained steady, but a lot has changed about the industry itself.

For those who operate a business in the trucking industry or are responsible for driving the trucks that supply our nation with goods, the changes that have taken place over the past decade affect day-to-day life. From regulations to advancements in technology, today, we’ll take a look at what has been changing in the industry and what these changes could mean in the years ahead.

The ELD Mandate Was Passed

One of the biggest changes to take place in the trucking industry in the past decade was the implementation of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The ELD rule first became law on Feb. 16, 2016, with an initial required compliance date by December 18, 2017. An extension was later issued, requiring compliance by December 2019 for nearly all truckers.

So what exactly is the ELD rule? This rule is designed to create a safer work environment for drivers and to make it easier and faster for trucking businesses to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.

Historically, these records were kept through the use of paper logbooks. The ELD rule mandated that paper logs were to be replaced by Automatic On-Board Recording Devices with automated electronic logging technology.

This rule affected any:

  • Interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers that were already required to keep RODS (record of duty status)
  • Vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds
  • Vehicles with placarded hazmat loads
  • Vehicles carrying more than 8 or 15 passengers

While the ELD rule required a lot of work upfront to ensure compliance, its goal has been to improve driver safety. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the ELD rule has helped to reduce the truck crash rate by 11.7% by improving driver compliance with current hours-of-service rules. Additionally, the use of ELD reduced hours-of-service violations by 50% when compared to paper logging.

The Truck Driver Shortage Has Continued

Over the last decade, the trucking industry has continued to see a rise in the shortage of drivers. According to the ATA, the industry needed 60,800 more drivers at the end of 2018 to meet the country’s demands for freight services.

Chief Economist Bob Costello of the ATA reported that left unchecked, the driver shortage could be over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 drivers by 2028.

This shortage continues to have a major impact on businesses. When trucks sit still for days, this increases operational costs and cuts into profits. According to one report, the cost of having a truck sit empty and not in use can be anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per day.

While this trend has been a constant over the past decade, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the shortage even more. The pandemic lockdowns made it more difficult to train new drivers, which increased the shortage of drivers on the road.

Newer Trucks Have Become Safer

Perhaps one of the best things to happen to the trucking industry over the past decade is the advancement in vehicle safety.

New trucks are designed to be safer than ever before. Modern commercial vehicles are equipped with the best in safety technology and systems, a trend that only looks to continue as automated systems are implemented to assist drivers in safe vehicle operation.

From trucks that can withstand stronger impacts to improved onboard safety systems, such as backup cameras and lane assist, the future is bright when it comes to the advancement of truck safety.

Throughout the decade ahead, as older trucks are retired from fleets, these advancements should begin to influence the safety metrics reported around the industry.

Onboard Monitoring is Becoming the Norm

Beyond just electronic logging for the sake of federal compliance, many commercial trucking businesses are investing in onboard monitoring systems for their own use.

  1. These systems are utilized by fleet managers and owners for numerous reasons:
  2. They make it easier to track and analyze fuel efficiency. This can help fleet managers better predict fleet fuel usage and look for ways to optimize efficiency.
  3. They make it possible to track deliveries in real-time which makes it easier to communicate with clients about potential delays.
  4. They can be used to better optimize driving routes. As data is collected on routes taken, fleet managers can adjust strategies to better plan delivery routes.
  5. They can help to ensure driver safety. With onboard monitoring, if an accident occurs, it is easier for emergency responders to be notified of the incident and provided with an exact driver’s location.
  6. They can help ensure compliance with important driver safety standards. From ensuring that drivers are not speeding to preventing drivers from operating their vehicles for too long without a rest, these systems can improve a business’ safety plan helping to lower risks.

There are numerous methods for implementing onboard monitoring, with a variety of companies such as Samsara, Lytx, FleetUp, and countless others specializing in smart fleet management. The beauty of these modern systems is that they can also streamline workflows, offer machine learning insights, and provide detailed reporting.

Visit Transwest to Upgrade Your Fleet

Over the past decade, a lot has changed in the trucking industry. One of the best changes has been the advancement in safety and the ability to better track driver safety due to modern vehicle technology. If you are ready to upgrade vehicles in your fleet to enjoy these modern advancements, come visit our team at Transwest.

We carry a premium inventory of commercial trucks, and our team is ready to help you explore what new options are available on the market.

While it is hard to say what the next decade might bring, at Transwest, we are dedicated to ensuring that trucking industries have access to the vehicles they need to stay on the road and stay safe.


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