Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines truck driving as the process, or business of transporting goods on trucks. If only it were as easy as it sounds. There is much more to it than simply driving a truck with goods on it. Most people probably do not think about it, but almost everything we use on a daily occurrence, was at one time or another, on a truck. Whether this is an exaggerated statement or not, it helps to show the importance of the trucking industry and the truck driver in our modern life. Throughout the years, there have been drastic changes in the truck driving industry.
Rising modestly in recent years, heavy truck sales remain off of their 2006 peak. This is caused by rising fuel and driver and equipment costs, which in return, has led shippers to create cheaper ways to operate more efficiently.
Rules and regulations continue to be added or revised to be stricter. Over the years the government has became more involved with the industry as well. Laws on driving time are the most recent regulations added. There is now an eleven hour driving limit after ten consecutive hours off duty. Drivers are now only able to drive seventy hours in eight days. Having these regulations on driving time slows down the process. If a driver were able to control his own hours without government interference, he or she would possibly be done the route earlier and be able to come home and see their family. A driver for the company, Swift, has only been driving for six months and has already witnessed changes in the industry. This goes to show how fast paced and changing the industry is.
Although highways are always expanding and seeming to get bigger, Randel Frazee, a driver of thirty-three years who is currently driving for Red Rock EnTill, says that there are more of both cars and trucks on the road. He states that although travel is supposedly decreasing, he has never come across as much traffic as he recently has. Even leaving at early hours in the morning or traveling during the week he is faced by a vast amount of cars. Last year the average distance in which a tractor-trailer traveled in the U.S. fell to 110,614 miles, a 12% decline from the late 1990’s and about 2% decline from 2006.
With a high tech changing economy, the truck driving industry is keeping up with it as well. Shane Culp, who has been a driver for ten years and who is currently driving for The Freight Services, said that he has seen more high tech and computerized ways of trucking come about. Technology has changed the industry and the overall way the business is managed. Electronic logs are one major technological factor of trucking. Drivers log their hours on it on it and it practically records what the driver does twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Companies are able to see their driver’s location and many other bits of information.
Also, the attitudes of the drivers have changed over the years. Joe Kierpier commented, “Before it was fun, and now it is simply a job.”
While speaking with Neil Roiser, a former private home improvement contractor, he pointed out numerous changes. He has been driving for over twelve years and made a career change because of this career paying well. A few of the changes he mentioned were: electronic logs, driving limits and other motor vehicle drivers creating dangerous situations due to texting and talking on cellular devices while driving. As for the trucks themselves, he said they are now more fuel-efficient and provide a quieter ride for the drivers.
Over the years the industry has seen many changes. In 2013 to sustain growth, the truck driving industry is facing many challenges. These challenges are more than just the government regulations. If the economy grows more rapidly than expected, the truck driver shortage, that in many cases impacts shippers, could become a significant problem for a growing industry looking for sustainability. As the years go on, there are more and more changes taking place. In our growing economy, we can only imagine what the industry has in store for us.
*The interviews and article were completed by Kennedy Logsdon, Western Maryland Truck Show Queen, and Kamryn Logsdon, Western Maryland Truck Show Princess