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international roadcheck 2019

Preparing for the International Roadcheck 2019

Summer is just around the corner, and so is the most disruptive week in the trucking industry: the International Roadcheck 2019. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) blitz is the largest inspection on the commercial motor vehicles in North America. This year, a 72-hour truck review will take place from June 4 – 6.

How does International Roadcheck 2019 work?

Starting on June 4, inspectors all over North America will execute numerous road inspections to define the violations and equipment malfunctions according to the North American Standard Level I Inspection. Each year, thousands of drivers and carriers are placed out of service because of the blitz. CVSA focuses on a different category of violation during each yearly inspection. In 2019, the theme of inspection is steering and suspension systems.

“Steering and suspension are safety critical systems for any commercial motor vehicle. Not only do they support the heavy loads carried by trucks and buses, but they also help maintain stability and control under acceleration and braking, keeping the vehicle safely on the road. Furthermore, they keep tires in alignment, reducing chances of uneven tire wear and possible tire failure, and they maximize the contact between the tires and the road to provide steering stability and good handling,” – CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson commented on the topic of inspection.

Interesting Facts

In 2018, more than 67,000 inspections over drivers and commercial vehicles were conducted on the roads. As a result, 11,910 vehicles (21.6 percent) and 2,666 drivers (3.9 percent) were placed out of service.

This year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is planning to inspect an average of 17 commercial vehicles per minute.

Along with the main focus of this year’s road check, inspectors will check vehicles on fuel systems, driver’s seat, steering mechanisms, brake systems, and more. Drivers will also be checked for alcohol & drug impairment, and fatigue.

Hopefully, this gives you some insights for what to expect, so you can be fully prepared to pass the inspection.

How to Navigate the Driver Shortage

Why is the drivers’ shortage happening?

According to the survey by American Trucking Association, the driver’s shortage could reach 175,000 drivers by 2024, which is almost five times more than 2014 rate. These forecasts can soon become a reality, as the average age of American truck driver is 55 years. It is easy to figure out that in a matter of 10-15 years, the old generation of truckers will retire, and carriers will have to deal with a disastrous situation, as recruiting young talents is a challenge.

How to deal with the problem?

There are two main challenges in truckers’ recruitment: to decrease leaving rates among truckers and to attract young ones. For the first category, the answer is simple: give the drivers what they want. Usually, they don’t want a lot: simple things like competitive salary, less stress, and comfortable working conditions. To conquer the new generation of drivers, companies have to change their recruiting strategy.

  • Decrease the hauls time. These are primary and evident things that everyone wants to receive for doing a hard job. But roots of the driver’s deficit problem lay deeper than the layer of monetary reward. Changes involve personal approach and attention to important life events, like birthdays and anniversaries. Mere modifications like giving truckers extra time at home will increase efficiency and loyalty to the employer.
  • Provide comfortable equipment. No one wants to drive an old, run-down truck that has lots of issues. If you want the driver to spend a long time on the road, make the route enjoyable. Modern, spare, clean restrooms and small kitchens are vital for staying sane while driving long distances. Sleep deprivation is among the most painful troubles in a trucker’s job. Nutrition matters as well. Short break time prompts drivers to eat junk food, high in fat and sugar. Matching this with an inactive lifestyle will result in a collection of serious health problems and possible weight gain. Investing in the health of truckers will lead to enduring partnerships and can reasonably diminish the shortage.
  • Eliminate side responsibilities. Turns out that drivers are often involved in the time-consuming processes that are not in their direct competence. Equipping the trucks with smart devices like GPS and hands-off control will not only save shippers and drivers from time-consuming processes, but will also increase the safety during the route, as the driver is not distracted and can focus on the trail. Automation of the freight tracking process will also be a major step towards route optimization. If the driver goes to Chicago, you can update him with load offers ahead of arriving, so he doesn’t have to run an empty truck to the start point to receive a new order.

At the end of the day, better results require major changes. An update of all of the strategies that involve truckers can be a useful solution for decreasing the shortage. Optimizing the system, reducing the haul time, raising the payment, providing new equipment, and changing the approach towards drivers’ off-work life altogether will create a principal difference in the current situation.

The Interrelated Issues Facing the Trucking Industry

The American Trucking Association projects that the trucking industry is poised for serious growth by 2022. The forecast suggests that overall revenue for the industry will rise almost 66% and tonnage will increase 24% by 2022.

However, 2016’s economy saw slow growth, shipping rates and volumes. Due to low demand, excess inventory and infrastructure bottlenecks, revenue YOY only rose 0.2%. But 2017’s trucking outlook improves: demand, spending and manufacturing are expected to pick up.

The driver shortage still overshadows the industry, and is expected to get worse. There aren’t enough qualified drivers filling open positions, and the aging workforce is retiring.

Adding to the enduring driver shortage, the ELD mandate has caused some drivers and small carriers to exit the industry completely. 51% of carriers indicated that they’ve lost drivers who did not want to operate under ELDs. ELDs are mandated for use by all commercial drivers who track HOS begins December 2017. 81% of large fleets (more than 250 trucks) reported that they have already achieved full ELD implementation, while small fleets (less than 250 trucks) are much slower to ELD integration; only 33% have fully integrated ELDs into their fleet.

Shippers have little interest in using carriers that are non-compliant. Some shippers are stepping up and asking carriers to begin installing ELDs now. According to John Larkin of Stifel Financial Corp., shippers have decided it’s too risky to wait until December to see if their core carriers have sufficiently implemented the technology.

“Based purely on regulatory issues, we’re predicting we’re going to hit 100% capacity utilization sometime in the middle of the year,” says Larry Gross, FTR.

The other regulatory issue facing the trucking industry? Hours-of-Service and the outcome of the FMCSA’s studies. The association’s results will greatly affect the rules on driver rest periods. With stricter operation rules, drivers’ productivity will take a hit, which in turn will tighten capacity. Plus, carriers will find additional pressure to increase pay to keep drivers and have technology available so that drivers can be on schedule.

Experts expect a capacity crunch to hit the industry in late 2017. “A 1-2% shift in capacity could be an earthquake. That shift and a little spark to demand will give you that ‘2014’ feel,” says Brian Fielkon, Jetco Delivery.

The trucking industry is constantly changing; oil prices fluctuate, regulations are authorized and/or challenged, technological advances streamline processes, and environmental responsibility continues to move up the priority list. Carriers and shippers can work with a 3PL to enhance their businesses, connect to a larger network and focus on core competencies.

Learn More: Expectations in Freight Transportation (2017 Edition)

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What Every Shipper Needs to Know About the Future Truck Driver Shortage

The shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has been a hot topic for some time. Most people in the industry have heard the statistics by now: we’re currently short 48,000 drivers, the shortage is expected to rise to 175,000 drivers by 2024 and carriers will need to hire 89,000 drivers a year over the next decade in order to keep up with demand. 

Supply chain experts think the driver shortage will truly harm the nation’s economy, while many drivers and owner-operators think the shortage doesn’t even exist. While freight tonnage has been slowly rising since 2014, the question remains, why aren’t we seeing the effects of the driver shortage?

Driver Pay as Indicator

Truck driver pay is a good indicator of a shortage – when drivers are in short supply but high demand, they will earn high salaries.

Driver pay has technically increased 17 percent from 2014 through 2015, reflecting the slight uptick in freight tonnage and subsequent strain on capacity. But, we still haven’t seen empty shelves, freight left on the dock or any other dramatic consequences of the driver shortage.

Inflation-adjusted driver pay, even after a 17 percent increase, has just recently come close to pre-recession levels in 2006. So, truck driver pay hasn’t been increasing, it’s been recovering.

The fact that we haven’t seen skyrocketing driver salaries, along with the fact that driver pay took 10 years to recover, suggests that there’s no driver shortage at all. In fact, in 2014, the number of drivers rose 2.5 percent.

If we haven’t felt the effects of the shortage yet, is there a shortage at all?

The Real Story behind Rates and Driver Pay

Similar to truck driver pay, truckload linehaul rates have recovered over the past decade and are near 2006 pre-recession levels. Unfortunately, current and projected linehaul rates will not be able to support any additional driver pay increases.

There are many reasons for carriers’ inability to raise wages, some of which include low-profit margins and the cost of regulatory compliance. They will have to find other ways to recruit and retain drivers.

At the same time, carriers are realizing they can’t raise wages anymore, carrier pay cycles have shrunk dramatically. Typically, the time between the first large carrier pay increase and the last carrier pay increase takes 33 to 36 months. However, starting in 2014, the most recent pay cycle only took 17 months.

This short pay cycle shows that carriers are fearful of a driver shortage, and, keep in mind, carriers are positioned to be the first to feel the effects of the shortage. The rapid succession of pay increases reflects carriers’ fear of losing drivers, as well as the difficulty they face recruiting new drivers.

Carriers’ fixation on driver pay clearly shows they’re worried about a shortage – a reliable sign that the hype around the driver shortage isn’t overdone. The inability to raise driver wages could become a serious problem for carriers if their only answer to the shortage is increasing pay.

Demand Masks the Shortage

Cyclical B2B industries have less demand for trucking services. Oil companies are going bankrupt and industrial and manufacturing companies are struggling through tough economic conditions. Freight tonnage has barely been rising due to strong consumer spending, but the sluggish industrial and manufacturing sectors have mitigated any impact on demand for trucking services.

When the demand for trucks and drivers is low, the driver shortage will be far less pronounced then it would be when there is a high volume of freight tonnage. Low demand for trucks masks the shortage of drivers, but that doesn’t mean there are enough drivers for future economic conditions.

While we haven’t seen any dramatic effects from a shortage of truck drivers yet, the behavior of carriers points to looming trouble. No one can say for sure when the economy will be back in full swing, but chances are, when it is, we will not have enough drivers to fulfill demand.

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