On Monday, June 12, the trucking industry and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) met – all under the auspices of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters in Washington D.C. to start a two-day meeting designed to address both accountability and safety within the organizations and companies involved.
Also among the topics were ‘Big Data’, how that data should be used and the different ways in which the supply chain has evolved – and will continue to evolve – over time.
The MCSAC advised the FMCSA on a new five-year plan they had put together. The plan – stretched out across five years – was designed to consider any deregulatory impacts or issues like truck driver retention and recruiting rates.
The New Plan Highlights
The MCSAC plan put the spotlight on the one thing that most legacy industries are attempting to deal with, and that’s technological disruption; the need for fleets, not just with each other, but within themselves, to better communicate.
Motor carriers should be operating within environments where systems are interoperable and speak to each other. Dispatch should be able to seamlessly communicate with any member of the fleet at a given moment, using several different methods.
Tractors and trailers should be tracked, whether by satellite or GPS, at all times. Today, these technologies exist, and the competitive fleets of the future will be using them. Will yours?
The MCSAC committee also pointed out 12 specific regulations which they felt may be outdated and could be under review, depending on the paperwork requirements or alignments of said regulation.
The Most Important Factor
What each players needs to consider as they weigh the different options available at agencies with new heads is how the underlying inefficiencies still built into the trucking industry will respond if decisions aren’t made on better informed data.
Take truck driver retention as one example. In an environment where we are still woefully short of the truck drivers we need, the industry itself – and some say the regulatory environment – serves as an enemy against itself.
But why, you ask?
Many studies have shown that a trucker could wind up anywhere between one and eight hours at one location – say, a weight check, which is not an entirely unheard-of scenario.
Or you could have a shipper who just isn’t ready and leaves the truckers waiting far too long. How many of us have seen that Facebook update from someone we know who has a trucker friend posting that they are waiting somewhere for someone who is extremely late with the load.
In this excellent look at what “the last mile” really means, truck driver James Benson argues that if the trucking industry is to get any safer or more efficient, they have to set and keep appointment times. Not doing so, as he puts it, as a “ripple effect” on the entire chain.
The “Driver” of Economic Growth
The fact is this: The trucking industry – a healthy supply chain – these are the drivers of economic gain. Yet there are many headwinds keeping the industry from reaching its full potential.
Whether truckers are dealing with long delays at ports or supplier docks or trying to make sense of the new Hours of Service regulation, our nation’s truck drivers are laying it out on the line for us. Trucking is the “driver” of economic growth. Let’s treat it as such.
With the Electronic Logging Device mandate and other rules perhaps under new consideration, could we see yet another change? No matter what happens, safety must always be kept in mind.