Trucks make America great: Trucking industry overview

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Trucks are essential for the survival of the American economy. We owe our creature comforts, – food, clothes, furniture, and pretty much everything else around us, – to trucks.

The truth is that every single thing around you has probably seen the inside of a truck either as a final product or as raw material. And it if hadn’t, you wouldn’t be where you are today. God bless the truck.

Why is trucking important?

The U.S. economy depends on trucks to deliver around ten billion tons of virtually every commodity consumed – over 80 percent of all freight transported annually in the U.S. alone. According to the American Trucking Association, this accounts for $700.4 billion worth of goods moved by truck. This is more cargo than what trains, ships, or planes handle together.

Trucks are essential for the first stages of supply chains in many industries. They transport raw materials from local suppliers, such as mines, quarries, farms, and loggers to factories that need materials to turn them into products. Finished goods then travel on trucks to wholesalers and retailers. No other type of transportation can deliver such a large variety and quantity of goods in such short times.

The importance of trucks cannot be overstated

Recent trends in logistics strategic management view trucks as the most significant factor in supply chain operations. If an accident occurs while the truck is en route to a logistics center, it not only delays the delivery but also slows down the whole production process. Sometimes the delays are so bad that entire factories have to shut down. Such was the case with quite a few manufacturing plants when the 9/11 attack took place. The delays on the roads caused plants to go out of business because they couldn’t deliver on time.

Safety on the roads is of the highest importance for truckers and the entire trucking industry. Yet, it is not a factor that depends on truckers alone. It depends on all drivers and their consciousness, on federal regulations, and road conditions, training truck drivers receive, and their working conditions.

What is it like to be a truck driver?

While some kids dream of becoming singers and actors when they grow up, others wish to be truckers. Sometimes even from an early age, you would see how a kid constantly plays with his favorite toy truck, and you would know that he will one day be the ruler of a big rig.

Becoming a truck driver might seem like an easy task at first. And quite exciting indeed:

  • Work without supervision;
  • Traveling long distances, getting to know people;
  • Enjoying one’s own company for long stretches of time.

Pretty much heaven for those who don’t picture themselves working in an office. But it’s not all romance. Once you gather some information, you will see that trucker’s job comes with quite a list of responsibilities.

Putting one’s own safety at risk

When you imagine a trucker, you probably see someone calmly sitting behind the wheel of a big hauler. Not thinking of anything. Peacefully enjoying the ride. Yes, probably.

But what you don’t see are the risks truckers face every day. Especially when it comes to safety. Although the number of large trucks and buses involved in fatal cases has declined in recent years, the injury crashes continue to increase. Every year about 5,000 people are killed in accidents involving semis. In 2014, the injury accidents had increased by 21 percent from the previous year. In 2015, it increased with an additional 8 percent from the previous year.

The recent trend of hiring younger and less experienced drivers is not contributing positively to these numbers either. More and more people enter the industry without having proper training. In addition, other drivers become more distracted, too. With the new in-vehicle tech, drivers become more comfortable on the road, and driving itself seizes to be an engaging activity. It puts all people on the road in danger and truckers, in their big heavy rigs, are no more protected than others.

Dealing with Infrastructure Problems

The trucking industry is suffering more than probably any other economic sector in the country. Two major problems affect truckers and the transportation of goods and services. Let’s look at them in more detail:

Parking Shortage

The lack of safety on the roads is only one of the issues.

Parking shortage, for example, has been ranked as the third top important issue in the industry in 2016 and has consistently been pushing drivers out of the business.

The available legal parking spots for trucks are simply not enough. This shortage causes truckers to look for alternative places to park and rest. And usually, such places are not designed for truckers to take a break. Today, in more than half of the states in the country, truckers have no other choice but to park on ramps and shoulders.

With forecasts on the expansion of freight transportation in the years to come, parking may become a real nightmare. The lack of parking causes truckers to continue driving when they are supposed to be resting. This builds up the physical and emotional fatigue, which eventually leads to permanent exhaustion and increases chances for accidents.

Traffic Congestion

Yes, no vehicle is immune to traffic jams, even the big rigs. It may sound a little ironic how something as big as an 18-wheeler can be subject to the same problem as a tiny VW Beetle, for example. But what can you do, really?

Recent solutions to traffic congestion suggest the reinvention of toll lanes. Maybe there could be one just for trucks of all sizes, similar to the bus lanes in big cities. Or maybe we could dedicate the first of Elon Musk’s boring tunnels to trucks?

To put it in numbers, traffic congestion costs the trucking industry nearly $50 billion. A study conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute found that traffic congestion took 728 million hours in delivery time from truckers in 2014. Infrastructure problems are at the heart of this loss of revenue and time. 

Enduring tough working conditions

Working conditions of long-haul truck drivers have worsened in the past years. The reasons for this are directly linked to the previously mentioned hardships of the profession. Yet, mistreatment on the part of management is often another factor. It is already causing many drivers to leave the industry. What is it that we are doing wrong?

To be honest, the main problem is within the essence of the profession itself. Traveling as a job can become quite hard for drivers. In the end, waiting becomes their most practiced activity. Sitting motionless behind the wheel. It affects not only truck operators’ safety but also their mental and emotional health.

Long-haul truckers have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, divorce, and drug abuse than the average Americans… But this comes with the choice truckers make when they enter the industry.

From then on, it is management’s duty to try to decrease these effects as much as possible. Fatigue should be taken care of by providing enough breaks without compromising on the driver’s compensation. Safety should be a priority not only on the road but also during breaks. Enough time should be given to drivers to go home and see their families.

The truck – Advanced or vulnerable?

Authorities and trucking companies alike have various solutions in the works to help tackle the issues within the industry. Some are related directly to the truck itself. Tech companies keep coming up with software and hardware innovations that offer solutions to these problems. Gradually the trucking industry is entering the era of connectivity.

  • One of the most debated topics in the industry – the ELD mandate.  The electronic logging devices will keep track of drivers’ activities and hours of service. This will help truckers but could be an issue for fleet owners. They will need to plan in advance how to get certified ELDs in time without disturbing their operations processes.
  • Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) will eliminate many issues on the roads. They will connect traffic cameras with GPS systems in the trucks to control and advise on traffic flow.
  • New speed limiters will be installed inside trucks to set a maximum speed rate. To some, this might be a problem, but others see it as a way of slowing down the big rigs and protecting both the truck, its tires, and the drivers themselves.
  • Self-driving trucks will have a huge effect on the workforce, forcing employees to adapt and acquire new skills to remain in the industry.

With all-new tech, there comes a new issue – cybersecurity. Systems become much more vulnerable, and it is entirely possible for anyone to find a way to control trucks, public buses, or ships from the internet. The good news is that officials are already investing substantial amounts in cyber research and protection. 

Shipping a truck

With the increasing importance of trucks and the increasing number of shipping companies, the demand for new or used heavy-duty vehicles also increases. And it is often easier to ship a truck from one location to another instead of driving it across the country, especially if you need to move not one but a whole fleet of trucks. How do you organize such a complicated plan and shipping process?

The process is simple when you find the right logistics partner who has both an excellent reputation and experience. Corsia Logistics vehicle relocation experts will be happy to walk you through the process and arrange the delivery of your truck safely and efficiently.

The Shipping Process

When it comes to pricing weight and size are key factors determining the cost. There will be a big difference between transporting a small pickup, an F-350, and let’s say a waste management truck or a cement mixer truck.

The major difference in price is due to the different truck’s dimensions and tonnage. Different size trucks usually require specialized equipment, usually based on the size and the type of trailer needed. Some examples of the types of trailers used for truck transportation are flatbeds, hotshots, single or double-drop, and step-deck.

trucking industry overview

Once you schedule your shipment with an agent, make sure you have your truck set up and ready for shipping. Confirm with your shipper what needs to be done and follow their instructions.

At pick-up, perform vehicle inspection together with the carrier driver. Keep track of the truck’s condition before and after the shipment. In the unlikely event of damages, it will be your responsibility to provide proof that the truck was not loaded in the same condition. This is important especially when you are shipping a truck that is a company’s asset or someone else’s property. At delivery, inspect the vehicle again, sign the Bill of Lading, and pay the remaining balance.

Be sure to ask questions and observe when you speak with the auto transport company representatives. It is important that they inspire trust and give you confidence that your truck will be in good hands.

At Corsia Logistics, we are always open about our procedures, policies, and prices. We believe in building long-lasting relationships with our clients –  your satisfaction and peace of mind are our main priority.

To ship a big rig, get in touch with us by calling (818) 850.5258 or chat with one of our logistics experts online.

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About the Author:

Dilyana Dobrinova is a nature & travel enthusiast. With a heart for books, scarves and vintage. She runs a brand consulting agency, while also running 10Ks between meetings. Dilyana holds an M.A. in International Marketing Management from the Berlin School of Economics and Law in Germany, and two B.As. in Journalism & Mass Communication and in Business Administration from AUBG.
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Comments

  1. Cynthia  May 9, 2018

    Much appreciated to read your article, from a female driver.

    reply

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