Truck parking, the economy, fuel prices, zero-emission vehicles; just a few concerns revealed in the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) Trucking Top Industry Issues Survey for 2023.

Fortunately, technologies exist to help motor carriers deal with these challenges. PrePass and Geotab recently teamed up for webinar to show how advanced technology and innovation can address these issues and improve truck fleets’ efficiency. Using the ATRI issues survey as a guide, this blog identifies practical solutions to address trucking’s key operational concerns.

No. 1 – The Economy

In the current economy, consumers are cutting back on spending, leading to a decrease in transportation needs.

This trend financially burdens fleets already grappling with rising costs, fuel price volatility, and complex regulations. To thrive in these conditions, fleet managers must exhibit foresight, adaptability, and meticulous planning.

Amid these changes, PrePass and Geotab emerge as valuable allies in helping fleets weather economic fluctuations.

PrePass delivers time and cost savings through weigh station bypass for qualified carriers and toll management services. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), each weight station bypass saves five minutes of driver time and nearly half a gallon of fuel, leading to $8.68 in operational cost savings.

PrePass toll technology further enhances carrier efficiency by reducing fuel consumption and emissions through optimized toll payment processes, competitive toll rates, and discounts.

Geotab helps fleets devise efficient routes, anticipate, and prevent breakdowns, and tracking fuel consumption. The technology supplies vital data for decision-making, regulatory compliance, and fleet visibility.

No. 2 – Truck Parking

The struggle to find suitable truck parking spaces continues as a pressing issue. Consider this:

  • Truck drivers lose about $5,500 yearly searching for parking.
  • Nearly 70% of drivers violate hours of service rules to find legal parking.
  • Drivers spend approximately 56 minutes daily searching for parking spots.

Lack of parking has caused tragic accidents, such as the July 2023 incident where a Greyhound bus hit three parked trucks on an exit ramp, resulting in three fatalities and 14 injuries. Prioritizing truck parking can prevent loss of life and injuries by safeguarding driver and motorist safety.

PrePass technology offers a lifeline to drivers grappling with parking. The PrePass app delivers visual and audible in-cab ALERTS to drivers, notifying them of available truck parking spaces, helping them find safe parking spots.

Effective trip planning, which includes identifying and reserving parking locations, becomes possible when integrating data from PrePass and Geotab.

These technologies optimize fleet routes while considering parking space availability to ease stress for truckers and improve road safety.

No. 3 – Fuel Costs

Fuel costs per mile have increased by 53.7% year-over-year, with fuel now comprising 28% of total fleet operating costs, as of December 2023—the highest since 2014.

PrePass delivers fuel savings through its weigh station bypass solution. The FMCSA reports that trucks using PrePass to bypass a weigh station save half a gallon of fuel each time. The PrePass Tolls automated toll solution further reduces fuel costs by eliminating stops to pay tolls.

Geotab technology tracks fuel usage and allows customers to integrate fuel cards for greater insights. This approach allows fleets to track fuel usage and identify fuel waste from poor driving habits. The tool also streamlines administrative processes and bolsters accountability by comparing fuel purchases to actual usage.

This technology also aligns with environmental goals by identifying and curbing wasteful behaviors. It optimizes routes to reduce time on the road and minimize fuel consumption—a win-win situation for both fleets and the environment.

No. 4 – Truck Driver Shortage

Though the driver shortage slipped to fourth place in the ATRI survey, it remains a significant concern. Carriers that prioritize safety and efficiency attract and keep drivers, and technology plays a key role in this.

University research shows shippers favor fleets in the PrePass bypass program because of their improved safety records and more reliable transit times. Similarly, studies on truck driver attitudes reveal higher job satisfaction when motor carriers prioritize safety using tools like INFORM Safety software from PrePass.

Here, tools from Geotab also prove invaluable. By using Geotab, fleets can make adjustments that enhance job satisfaction and reduce driver stress. Geotab technology also ensures fleets follow strict hours of service regulations, promoting driver safety and overall job satisfaction.

No. 5 – Truck Driver Compensation

Driver wages increased 15.45% in the past year, and combined driver pay and benefits are at a record high. However, a sluggish economy has suppressed actual driver income.

While technology doesn’t write driver checks, it can improve fleet efficiency and help control costs. Technology can reduce detours, fines, fuel use, and vehicle downtime, freeing more funds for driver compensation.

For example, PrePass weigh station bypass and PrePass Tolls trim fuel usage and save time, saving money that fleets can use to better compensate skilled truck drivers.

Geotab tools also play a crucial role in balancing fair compensation and rising expenses. This technology tracks drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations and monitors their efficiency and safety to identify drivers eligible for rewards. It also supports route planning and improves fuel efficiency, which reduces operational costs.

No. 6 – Trucking Verdicts and Settlements

Verdicts, lawsuits, and settlements against trucking companies have surged in frequency and amounts, leading to increased motor carrier insurance premiums, often irrespective of safety records, performance, or crash involvement. Fortunately, technology can play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges.

Fleets can enhance safety by incorporating advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and providing thorough driver training. ADAS encompasses various safety technologies, including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and blind spot alerts.

Using forward-facing and cab-facing cameras also can help prevent accidents and train drivers to improve their driving habits.

Cab-facing cameras help drivers recognize and correct risky driving behaviors, while telematics offers additional insights from the engine control module on vehicle behavior, aiding in accident prediction and prevention. These tools also can show a driver’s alertness and lack of distraction before a crash to help settle legal conflicts.

Geotab’s comprehensive accident reconstruction solution also helps determine what happened in an accident. The technology collects detailed second-by-second data, including GPS speed and engine information, to compile a comprehensive accident overview and create a visual reconstruction. The reconstruction is tamper-proof when retrieved directly from the telematics device, offering invaluable insight into a crash.

No. 7 – Truck Driver Distraction

Research reveals 80% of truck involved crashes result from driver distractions occurring just 3 seconds before the incident. Here, safety solutions are available through technology.

Camera technology combined with artificial intelligence (AI) is one such technology. AI-equipped dash cams can record incidents and improve driver focus by detecting distractions and intervening proactively.

Cell phone and technology use in the cab also contribute to crashes. Federal regulations already restrict handheld devices while driving and mandate one-button use for in-cab technologies.

However, proper driver training is crucial to ensure drivers know how to use technology safely. PrePass technology employs clear visual and audible notifications to guide drivers. PrePass devices ensure drivers know when to bypass or pull into weigh stations and automate toll payments to keep drivers focused on the road.

No. 8 – Truck Driver Retention

Truck drivers tend to stay longer at carriers when they are happy, and technology plays a key role in boosting drivers’ job satisfaction by reducing stress and simplifying day-to-day tasks.

PrePass serves as a valuable tool in attracting and maintaining drivers. According to driver surveys, PrePass technology consistently ranks among the top three employer-provided benefits, just behind pay and time at home. PrePass INFORM Safety reports improve driving behaviors, fostering a strong safety culture that attracts qualified drivers.

Geotab technology enhances communication and teamwork among drivers and teams. This also drives higher satisfaction.

No. 9 – Truck Driver Detention and Delays

The trucking industry grapples with challenges driven by detention and delays at customer facilities. These scenarios deter driver productivity, delay deliveries, and damage customer relationships. These delays also encourage reckless driving and speeding to make up for lost time, increasing risk and driver fatigue.

Technology addresses these issues through real-time vehicle tracking. It provides fleet managers visibility into when drivers arrive and how long they spend at each location and integrates this information into the fleet’s transportation management system to resolve issues quickly.

PrePass weigh station bypass and driver safety ALERTS play a vital role in avoiding detention and delays by improving transit time and reliability. PrePass Tolls lets drivers bypass toll booths, keeping them on the move and reducing downtime.

Data aggregation tools also help identify and address recurring bottleneck trends, while electronic logging devices provide a record of delays at customer facilities. Using this data, fleets can pinpoint problem spots and work with customers or brokers to enhance driver conditions.

No. 10. – Zero Emission Vehicles

Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) feature prominently on ATRI’s top 10 list, reflecting government’s push for swift phase-out timelines for internal combustion engines.

However, challenges loom large for ZEV adoption. Cost and availability present formidable hurdles. Eco-friendly battery-powered trucks, heavier and with a limited range than diesel counterparts, may require more trucks or trips to transport the same amount of freight. A scarcity of charging facilities adds to the challenges.

Fleets can address these challenges through three key strategies.

  1. Shift to Alternative Fuels. Exploring alternative fuels like biodiesel or renewable formulations can achieve emission reductions, similar to ZEVs.
  2. Embracing Upgrades. State laws offer exceptions or delays for fleets unable to transition to ZEVs immediately. Fleets can qualify for concessions by demonstrating their commitment to emission reduction through other means, such as upgrading to fuel-efficient equipment to leveraging programs like PrePass and PrePass Tolls.
  3. Strategic ZEV Adoption. Geotab helps fleets strategically transition to ZEVs through suitability assessments and recommendations. The company’s tools also offer insights on charging status, electricity usage, and ZEV vs. traditional vehicle comparisons. Access to this data also helps fleets monitor the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their ZEV programs.

Technology stands as a formidable ally in the trucking industry’s ongoing battle with its top concerns. From addressing the challenges posed by ZEVs and fluctuating fuel prices to navigating economic uncertainties and bolstering driver retention, technology-driven solutions from companies like PrePass and Geotab are paving the way for more efficient and sustainable operations.

The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and integrated electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and INFORM™ Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.