Fleets today must tackle tough issues including driver and technician shortages, truck parking, detention time, and compliance. That’s according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI’s) Top Trucking Industry Issues survey released in the fall of 2021.

The good news is that technology and operational improvements can help fleets address many of these pressing issues. In a recent webinar, both PrePass and one of its partners, Geotab, presented solutions to the challenges outlined in the ATRI survey.

1. Retain Drivers and Technicians

The driver shortage has been a top industry concern for five consecutive years. But in 2021, the shortage of technicians also made the top 10.

Fleets can address these shortages in three ways. They can encourage drivers and technicians to work together. Fleets can collaborate with training schools and engage with high schools to drive interest in these professions. And they can focus on retention.

Fleets that work to provide with a great culture, positive work environment, competitive pay, excellent benefits, and technology have an edge in retaining drivers and technicians. Advanced technology helps fleets increase efficiency and safety, lower empty miles, and automate routine tasks.

When fleets add maintenance scheduling systems and remote diagnostics, for example, they can reduce frustrations that often push employees out the door. Remote diagnostics moves maintenance from reactive to proactive by delivering data that helps fleets plan and prioritize work in advance. Working together, these systems:

  • Diagnose the issue and estimate repair time
  • Determine which technicians possess the needed skills to fix the issue
  • Proactively schedule maintenance to reduce further issues

Fleets can improve driver retention by understanding and delivering what drivers want. Driver compensation held the number three spot on ATRI’s list. For drivers paid by the mile, the more fleets can keep wheels turning, the more drivers can earn. PrePass helps keep drivers on the road by allowing qualified trucks to bypass weigh stations, when other carriers must pull in. Also, telematics data from Geotab helps fleets implement a performance-based pay structure that rewards drivers for fuel economy, safety, and other metrics.

2. Truck Parking Woes

One headache that sends drivers running for the hills is the lack of truck parking, which has made ATRI’s Top 10 list for ten consecutive years.

Drivers place truck parking as a top three concern for good reason—it costs them money. ATRI finds drivers lose an average of $4,600 a year in time spent looking for parking. Also, fleets lose an average of $9,300 in revenue earning miles per truck each year when drivers have to cut runs short to locate parking.

Apps can ease the burden of finding suitable parking. The PrePass app alerts drivers of upcoming parking locations as they roll down the road. When fleets use PrePass with Geotab, these alerts appear in the Geotab app.

3. Highway Congestion Concerns

Highway congestion also costs fleets fuel and time, and causes frustrating delays. While fleets cannot solve congestion concerns, they can implement technologies that improve planning and save time.

Connecting vehicles to infrastructure such as weigh stations and toll facilities supports efficient freight movement. The technology allows fleets to:

  • Skip lines and use transponders to pay tolls
  • Improve routing and avoid congestion

4. An Eye on Safety

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), large trucks and buses accounted for 155,585 crashes, 76,705 injuries, and 4,751 fatalities in 2020.

The number of crashes and the increasing settlement amounts in “nuclear verdicts” have driven up insurance rates, leading carriers to assume greater risk through higher deductibles, self-insurance, expanded use of insurance captives, and lower liability coverage.

But before fleets can lower coverage to reduce rates, they must improve safety and cut crash frequency.

Underwriters first look at FMSCA Safety Management System (SMS) scores before insuring a fleet. With INFORM Safety Software from PrePass, carriers can identify safety trends and areas for improvement to improve their SMS scores. INFORM helps fleets tell their full safety story and prove they’ve fixed identified deficiencies.

Driver scorecards also boost safety. Driver performance evaluations based on specific driving metrics from telematics or tracking systems, such as speeding, aggressive behavior, or idling, help fleets reduce risky behavior. They also equip carriers to deliver coaching and training to drivers who need remedial training.

With driver coaching and training, video telematics also cuts down on crashes, distractions, and other dangerous situations. When a crash occurs, the footage can show driver behavior before, during and after an accident. Fleets can also use reconstruction tools to determine the level of G force, where the impact occurred, and other information about a crash. Often, this helps exonerate drivers and remove at-fault crashes from their record.

5. Continued Compliance

The FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) hit number six on the ATRI list. Carriers already have access to their CSA data through the FMSCA portal, but without the right tools, it remains just data. Technology helps fleets make the data actionable.

INFORM Safety from PrePass provides granular visibility into fleet safety and compliance data. PrePass partnerships with companies like Geotab combines this data with real-time driving performance information. The analysis helps companies reward safe driving and improve productivity.

There’s no “easy button” to fix every concern on ATRI’s Top 10 list. But the right mix of technology and a commitment to safety and compliance can be a step in the right direction.