With just a couple weeks left in 2017, it’s naturally time to pause, reflect, and consider how we spent the year. What events and stories defined the past 12 months? How far have we come since January, and what surprises did we run into along the way? Was it a good year, a bad year, or something in between? How we will remember 2017?
If you’re a member of the transportation industry, well, the answer could be somewhat depressing: for many fleets, 2017 will go down as the year spent thinking about 2018. Transport Topics Senior Features Writer Daniel P. Bearth writes:
The year 2017 was one of anticipation for the freight transportation industry.
On one hand, the long buildup to the Dec. 18 federal deadline for broad adoption of electronic logging devices to track hours of service stoked concern that the law would increase pressure on an already challenging market for drivers.
That said, there also was a growing sense that the road ahead in 2018 will be better in most respects, with the market for freight hauling showing signs of tightening up as 2017 drew to a close.
Looking back, it was a year of looking ahead: new regulations, new technologies, new possibilities and barriers for fleets—all of it potentially transformative… but only potentially. Other than the ELD mandate finally going live (this week), we’re going to have to wait and see how major legislation (such as the GOP tax reform bill) and industry disruptions (such as fully electric vehicles) play out next year, or the year after that, or… you get the picture.
There are plenty of reasons for fleets to be impatient for the future. The status quo is unsustainable. If any company wasn’t feeling the strain of driver turnover at the beginning of the year, they almost certainly are now:
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The growing shortage of truck drivers and technicians remained an industry issue in 2017.
With the national unemployment rate falling to 4.1% in October, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello issued a new estimate of the number of drivers needed beyond those currently available. He put the number at 50,000 a year but doubling to 100,000 in five years unless something happens to change current trends.
Yikes. Of course, 2017 wasn’t all doom, gloom, and thumb-twiddling. Plenty of mergers and acquisitions took place this year, and some firms have seen their economic conditions improve. Read about all of it in “2017: A Year Spent Looking Ahead.”
If you’re looking ahead at uncertainty, you don’t have to face next year alone. Make 2018 the year you reduce turnover, automate compliance and safety monitoring for all of your employees, and get more drivers out on the road. Click here to learn more.