Autonomous vehicles are all over the news. You’ve heard the stories about beer trucks driving themselves across the Rocky Mountain states and self-driving Ubers trying to survive New York City’s insane traffic. A day will come eventually when self-driving trucks are a reality. But as Brian Fielkow, our friend at Jetco , has recently said, that will be years from now.
In the meantime, though, truck and vehicle technology gets smarter and smarter by the day. Backup cameras for rigs, lane warning lights, brake assist, self-functioning fog lights are now common place. These are all recent developments in the fast evolution of the smarter truck and all of these together could be a key to attracting more drivers to the industry.
Making the Driver’s Life Easier
As Fielkow said in an interview with Yahoo! Finance, new technology in trucks could lead to reshaping the image of the truck driver. A grueling professional job could be seen as a little easier to outsiders, who may reconsider giving truck driving a try or even returning to the industry after leaving previously. Fielkow believes that all the tech upgrades, especially driver assist, combined with newer, more comfortable cabins will actually make truck driving more “fun” for drivers. More fun is a good start but that doesn’t solve Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
There are of course many other factors to remember regarding recruitment of new drivers. Pay will always be king when it comes to bringing in new people. Fielkow accurately described that pay starts with customer rates and their partnership to keep your wheels rolling. You need to have the intestinal fortitude to compete on service (say no to cheap freight) and demand your customers are not the reason for delays. Fielkow reiterated a frequent talking point that truck driving is a vital and respected industry that has unfairly faded in the eyes of the world. While true, people are not going to join the industry to serve the American economy. Working in the trucking industry isn’t seen as a desirable profession because no one has made the job desirable. The law of supply and demand has still yet to be repealed, even in the employment markets that the economy depends on.
ROI in Drivers
So what do we take away from this? Technology is advancing and you can use it to your advantage. When the time comes to purchase new rigs for your fleet, your calculation is how does investing in smarter trucks to make the driver’s life a little easier, thus improving driver retention. You’ll be investing into both good equipment and recruiting/retention by doing so. Having a reliable workforce is the best customer service action you can take as a business owner.
Self-driving trucks will be here one day but that could be quite a while from now. So for now, you’re evaluation is: How can this piece of technology provide a return by helping retain drivers?