Self-driving trucks sound like they should be in futuristic movies, like androids and phones that talk back to you. Life goes so quickly that we blink and the future has snuck up on us! The idea of autonomous vehicles is actually not new, as talk and prototypes have been in the works for years. Google looks to put fully manufactured self-driving cars and trucks on the market within the years 2020 - 2025; in fact, some of these trucks have already been licensed to operate in Nevada.
One of the ideas behind this technology is to reduce the number of truck related accidents. Drivers can fall victim to fatigue, stress, or other natural human emotions that cause almost 90% of those collisions. A computer, however, cannot feel tired or angry or stressed which would help make those accident statistics smaller.
Autonomous trucks will also help the environment: freight trucks account for about 20% of total transportation fuel though they only take up 5% of vehicle population. These self-driving trucks can reduce fuel bills by 4-7%!
The weight of a vehicle’s safety equipment can cause trucks to burn fuel quickly as can driving at high speeds, braking hard, and re-accelerating. Vehicle automation will reduce the need for such equipment as automated trucks rarely have accidents. Opposed to humans, computer-controlled trucks respond more smoothly when re-accelerating and when putting on the brakes so less emissions get spilled into the air and, thus, reduce air pollution.
The trucking industry has been worried that they will be out of a job should trucks start driving themselves, but that’s not exactly how it would work.
There would still be a human person in the trucks, however, who would take over the last few miles of a job by taking highway exits, maneuvering through city streets, and backing up to loading docks. The driver would also always be able to override the steering if he or she has to. Self-driving systems are not meant to replace drivers, they are meant to help them.
However, as of July 30, 2018 Uber has decided to put the autonomous trucks on hold to focus on its autonomous cars. A woman in Tempe, Arizona was killed by one of the self-driving cars causing Uber to halt the development of the cars until they can perfect the system to keep pedestrians safe.
Trucking has always been a male dominated career, more than 94% of the industry is male according to a recent study, but that leaves about 6% of the industry to be female. Most women come into the job because of a male family member or partner, but not because they’ve heard about it on their own. The idea of female truck drivers is so low that the number of women in the trucking business increased only a little in the last 17 years.
But why don’t women want to join this industry? Is it the driving? The hours? Or maybe it’s the pressure of still being overall unwelcome among the men?
The fact is that most women aren’t aware that being a truck driver is even available to them let alone an actually an equalizing job. Salary is based on miles and or hours so all drivers are paid the same. With the 401(k) and steady salary, it can be a great job for anyone. However, women are often faced with skepticism from some men in the same field. Overall the trucking world is still pretty closed off from women as it is a predominantly male industry. So what can be done?
In 2014, the President of the Women In Trucking organization, Ellen Voie, and her team traveled across North America to bring awareness about trucking opportunities to as many women as possible. She has even release a truck driver doll to plant the idea of trucking in young girls. Perhaps the organization will do something similar in the future to help the new generation of drivers.
The industry has been providing more and more jobs over the past year, but some carriers are still experiencing a driver shortage. As a result, they are driving up wages to appeal to the public; now is definitely the time for women and anyone to join!
In 2017, the amount of citations and warnings given to truck drivers reached about 59,000. Many drivers follow unsafe behaviors such as speeding, texting, following too closely, and changing lanes improperly; this kind of driving is the leading cause of highway accidents.
Operation Safe Driver Week, which is recognized annually by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), partnered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), falls on July 15 - 21 this year. This week is dedicated to reduce the number of accidents involving trucks and to encourage truckers to abide by the safe driving practices.
While this week is specifically important for trucking officials, roadside inspections take place year-round. You can’t operate a truck without having to go through one or all of these 8 levels:
North American Standard Inspection
The first level can be one of the longest as it has 37 steps where the CVSA inspector inspects the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and the driver. They check such things as the breaking and electrical systems as well as seat belt and drug usage.
Walk-Around Driver or Vehicle Inspection
It’s pretty self-explanatory. The safety inspector will walk around the driver and the truck without going beneath it and examine fully the outside such as the tires and the suspension.
Driver Credential Inspection
This level is strictly a credential examination meaning documents like the commercial driver’s license and the Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate
Usually during this type the inspector is looking at a specific item. Generally this happens to support or discredit a suspected trend or study.
Includes all of the vehicle inspections that level 1 has and it t can be done without the driver present at any location.
North American Standard Inspection for Transuranic Waste and Highway Route Controlled Quantities (HRCQ) of Radioactive Material
This long-titled one deals with radioactive materials and how a CMV follows regulations as well as transports wastes.
Jurisdictional Mandated Commercial Vehicle Inspection
Handles any jurisdictional mandated inspection that doesn’t hold up to the requirements of any other level. This level usually applies to vehicles like school busses and hotel shuttles. Because it is jurisdictional government employees and other approved contractors may inspect for this level as well as the normal safety officer.
North American Standard Electronic Inspection
The last level is still relatively new way of examination in that it can be completed wirelessly while the truck is moving. There are certain data points that the CVSA must account for in order to make this unfamiliar level legitimate such as a descriptive location including GPS coordinates.
Don’t worry there are ways to pass all these inspections! Here are some important things to remember:
If you want to find out more about these examinations, simply google any level you need. Unscheduled inspections can be a pain, but remember that they are for your safety as well as the safety of everyone driving around you. So don’t slack off, get organized now as roadside inspections can happen at any time at any location!
The trucking industry is facing low unemployment! Truck transportation has added 3,200 jobs since last year and the numbers are still climbing. Due to the economic boost and the increase in e-commerce from online retailers there is a huge demand for trucks and drivers; however, with older truckers retiring who will replace them? Young adults seem to be turning their cheeks to any job openings perhaps because of the now self-driving trucks in Atlanta, but more likely because the driver must be at least 21 to apply. This deters them from starting trucking right after high school which makes it hard to find truckers these days.
But good news is on the horizon! The DRIVE- Safe Act, presented by Representatives Duncan Hunter and Trey Hollingsworth, is a bill that helps get young drivers eligibility while keeping them and us safe. It fixes the technicality that allows drivers under 21 to drive eight or more hours through a long state (like FL), but doesn't allow for a fourteen-mile drive from VA to Washington DC. There are, of course, requirements and benchmarks an 18 to 21 year old must attain before getting a CDL such as additional training via a two-step program and 400 hours of apprenticeship.
This bill keeps the young drivers safe by making sure their trucks have a limit of 65 MPH, have forward-facing video event capture, and have systems to help avoid collisions. With the DRIVE-Safe Act the next generation of truckers can safely and securely fill open jobs without having to worry so much about what to do between high school graduation and the day they turn 21. Now retirees can be swiftly replaced and the trucking industry can continue.
These days freight markets have somewhat stabilized after an upsurge in demand at the end of 2017. Even though there’s still a shortage of drivers, wages and benefits for them are spiking in hopes to attract newcomers as well as keep oldtimers. Self-driving trucks won’t completely drown out human truckers and young men and women can start driving across state lines much younger; there will be enough jobs and workers for the next decade.
Memorial Day is seen as the unofficial start of summer: some cities throw parades to celebrate the new season, families come together, neighborhoods have barbeques, and friends pack up and go to the beach; it’s one of the few definite three-day weekends throughout the whole year. Traditionally on the last Monday of May, all flags are lowered to half mast from dawn until noon in honor of past and present military deaths. Here is a list of things you can do this weekend to honor our fallen brothers and sisters:
In 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group, General John A. Logan, moved that May 30 be a day of commemoration for the over 620,000 soldiers that were killed during the Civil War. He called it Decoration Day (it wouldn't become Memorial Day until after World War II). It wasn’t until after World War I that the remembrance was extended to all male and female soldiers who have died during any war or military duty. With the full embrace of this day by the whole country, it was recognized as a federal holiday in 1971.
Thousands of men and women fight and die for us, they bleed and scream for us, and they win and lose for us so that we can scroll through our social media and play with our pets without fear. So for all the children who died away from home, for all the husbands and wives who died away from their children, and for all the friends and lovers who died protecting our country: let us mourn and remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.