Truck Drivers

2019 Forecasted Driver Challenges

With the new year underway, we look at some of the biggest challenge’s drivers are expected to face on the road in 2019. LandLine magazine did a nice job with their feature article looking into these challenges, so we’ll do our take on the topic.

So, what’s on deck for 2019? Well, according to LandLine, drivers should expect to see similar challenges that they’ve dealt with in the past.

Last year, Electronic Logging Devices were fully implemented. While it doesn’t appear, at least right now, that new regulations are going to shake-up the industry like ELD’s, a movement in hours of service reform could be on the horizon.

Hours of Service

Many drivers will be happy to know progress is underway to amend hours of service rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering expanding the “short-haul” hours to 14 on duty from 12 hours on duty so that it is consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers. Seems fair, right? Also, under consideration is extending the current 14 hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours for when a driver deals with poor driving conditions, revising the current 30-minute mandatory break for drivers after eight hours of continuous driving, and reinstating the option for drivers to split up the mandatory one hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks with sleepers.

But will the FMCSA actually reform the rules in 2019? We know most drivers want something done, but these kinds of things always tend to drag out longer. It’ll likely take well into 2019 or beyond for something to happen, so in the meantime, drivers will have to continue about their business with the rules in place.

Parking

Have you seen all the new truck stops and rest stops appear in 2018? Neither did we. It’s really to no one’s surprise that the lack of parking spots available will continue to be an issue in 2019 and so far, it doesn’t look like much will change down the road.

New reports are expected to come out this year, but at the end of the day, they will likely tell us what we already know…that there isn’t enough parking. It’s a tricky situation, there have been proposed new truck stops in years past, but majority of the time they are shot down due to residents in the area complaining about the potential of crime, pollution and noise.

So, what can be done? Many states in the U.S. are attempting to inform drivers of rest stop parking availability through a Truck Parking Information Management System. This gives drivers real-time parking availability via road signs. Our sister company, Intelligent Imaging Systems, is a leading player in this technology, which is a great help to drivers. But, at the end of the day, what really needs to happen is for states to increase truck parking availability. As LandLine simply put it, “For the next 12 months, pay attention to local and state government action while the feds are busy at work with yet another survey.” 

Tolls

Tolls have been around for what seems like forever, and they’re something drivers and fleets have to factor in when planning a route. It’s the cost of doing business…but sometimes, it can appear that states try to take advantage of trucks travelling through their state. We hope a trend isn’t forming by states to issue ‘truck only’ tolls as a way to help pay for infrastructure projects.

Rhode Island, for example, issued a ‘truck only’ toll on I-95 back in June 2018 and generated more money than expected. So, what did the state do as a result? They installed 12 more overhead toll gantries on six highways.

Trucks may cause more damage to roadways than cars, but is it fair that trucks, which make up five percent of the vehicles on the road have to pay the majority for tolls in some states?

It’ll be worth watching to see if other states propose these ‘truck only’ tolls, and if so, to what extent? There are already 6,000-plus tolled roads in the U.S., so adding these extra tolls will just drive up the cost of business.

Compensation

We noted in a previous blog Becoming a Truck Driver Now Makes a Lot of Cents that now is a good time to become a driver (improving driver pay, benefits, company culture, travel, etc.,) but, like most things in life, there are still some sour grapes out there plaguing the industry. What we mean is, there are still companies out there, who don’t properly compensate drivers for their time on the road.

With the controversial push to try and allow 18-year-olds to be eligible to drive interstate, could that make things worse for driver pay? Some argue it will increase driver turnover with more young drivers entering the industry, then leaving after a few years to find a new profession. It’ll be a case worth watching in 2019.