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Technology in Trucking

By: Chelsea Tucker

Chelsea Tucker

A recent graduate from The University of Alabama, Chelsea is currently pursuing a Master's Degree and works as a web relations coordinator at Randall-Reilly.

QualcommFrom individuals in the 1920s with single trucks delivering to make a living to companies with 500 large truck fleets, the trucking industry has grown a great deal in the last 100 years. The interconnectedness of the American freeways have led to consumers being able to get goods from hundreds of miles away, and shippers being able to send them. America owes its closeness primarily to pioneers in technology. The internet allows people to communicate in real time when they’re time zones apart and has worked itself into nearly every facet of American life. Trucking is no exception.

Some of the more traditional road cowboys are a bit slower than other occupations to drive into the tech world, but those numbers are shrinking. One firm getting on board is Coyote Logistics in Chicago, Illinois. Coyote seamlessly integrates technology into their day to day business to best fit their customers and drivers. It’s easy for them to do so because the technology they use, they created. The company stays abreast of the transportation network through the web and makes sure they and customers know where deliveries are at all times. For the companies that aren’t tech savvy, there are other innovative devices they can utilize to keep up with the competition. ORBCOMM, a communications provider, recently won the E-Tech Award for Innovation from CTIA-The Wireless Association for the solar powered GT 1100. The GT 1100 is a  machine to machine communicator that makes asset tracking even easier.

Besides the companies and their new tools, truck drivers are also seeing changes in how they work with technology. For some, this is a great improvement. No doubt you have seen the best commercial ever by now. Thanks to improvements in technology, a trucker fortunate enough to get behind one of Volvo’s FM Trucks will find steering to be a breeze. With Volvo’s Dynamic Steering, drivers do not have to make nearly as many adjustments to their wheel, as the steering is regulated automatically for inconsistencies in the road. This modification is the only way the two truckers could drive in reverse so smoothly that Jean Claude didn’t become road kill. But with all these benefits of technology come issues some drivers aren’t too pleased about.

An EOBR for everyone

The trucking industry looks to spend about $2 billion dollars making electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) mandatory for all drivers. These devices can be seen as a blessing or a curse. The EOBRs monitor trucker’s time left to drive according to HOS rules and can make it easier for drivers and dispatchers to schedule in deliveries. Also, the EOBRs collect data like when the truck is moving, every time it stops, how the driver applies the brakes, and so on. The machine can help drivers with fuel efficiency or even alert companies to unsafe drivers. While some of these factors may seem beneficial, many drivers only see bad news.

With easy monitoring from dispatch, some drivers fear harassment. Dispatchers may pressure drivers to make deadlines if they till have time left to drive, even if the truckers are feeling fatigued. Also, many drivers do not see the benefit of EOBRs. Some feel like it doesn’t make anything safer and writing hours manually is really not that much of a time suck. Furthermore, EOBRs are often seen as micromanagers. The open road seems a bit less free when a man 300 miles away knows every time you pump the brakes. But just like paper logs could be manipulated, some drivers have come up with ways to dupe the EOBRs. Drivers have jammed the signal, unplugged the boxes, and even used fake driver IDs.

Clearly, technology has made a huge impact in the trucking industry and will continue to do so. With the safety and productivity new advancements can bring, higher supervision and constraints are in tow. So what about you drivers? Do you already have an EOBR or are you dreading the day they become mandatory?


2 thoughts on “Technology in Trucking

  1. Raymond Andrewsw

    Here we go again!!! EOBR’s were only to be used for accident investigation but before the ink from that sentence was dry they have incorporated this into just another way to regulate how, when, where and how much a driver can work and how much money he or she can make thus leading companies to hire more drivers and buy more equipment which translates to higher prices the consumer has to pay.. If a driver wants to work this way then he or she will go to work for a union outfit God forbid.
    It amazes me that these companies that say they can not afford to give their employes a raise can come up with the money to install all the technology that the government is instilling into the industry.
    It is no wonder the amount of driver that are leaving the industry and going on some kind of aid to survive and do things like collect can and bottles from the road side. They can make more money with less supervision.

  2. Chelsea Tucker Post author

    Thanks for your comment Raymond! It’s a bit scary how something that is steadily on its way to being mandatory in every truck could be the thing driving workers away from the industry. It doesn’t seem like America can afford anymore truckers leaving the truck behind. We’ll see if the effects of the driver shortage affect the implementation of EOBR’s anytime soon.


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