It’s no surprise that the transportation industry has an age problem. The average age of drivers continues to increase, and the percentage of drivers in the 45-64 year old age group skews higher than the total workforce. Although it is a challenge, the industry needs to attract new, younger drivers. Of course, while we’re not saying it isn’t important to have a workforce with experience, logic and a diligent transportation management system dictate that there must be an influx of new blood to keep an industry viable.
As part of spring CCJ Symposium, a group of IT leaders agreed that technology is one of the best ways to not only retain drivers, but specifically to recruit new, younger drivers. Why? Technology is entrenched in everyday life. You don’t need to look very far to see someone walking down the street with a smartphone. In classrooms across the country, laptops have replaced notebooks. The idea of paper as the sole method of communication is seen as antiquated in the eyes of the current generation. Technology is a natural part of life today.
This adoption of technology has created one of the biggest opportunities within the transportation industry. While safety is the primary driver of the ELD mandate (as it should be), one of the secondary benefits of the upcoming mandate is the facilitation of technology adoption. Transitioning to a more technology-focused way of operating will help the industry gain younger, more technology-savvy drivers. It only makes sense: The younger generation seems to be born with technology in their hands. Children today don’t know a world without the internet, smartphones, and technology all around them. The adoption of driver safety technology is thus, a step in the right direction.
So why is technology relevant to me?
ELDs are one of the primary ways in which technology and transportation intersect. At its core, an ELD IS a technology product.
And that technology can be put to great use to ease the burdens on today’s commercial truck drivers.
Of course, nobody likes paperwork, but this is especially true with the current generation. The youth of today are used to completing activities on mobile devices or computers. While ELDs accomplish many of the same things that paper does (although ELDs do this better and more efficiently) it doesn’t “seem” like paperwork, due to the technology involved. The ELD simply makes things easier.
With electronic logs for truck drivers, the reduction in paperwork equals time savings. The FMCSA estimates drivers will spend over 20 hours per year filling out paper logs. ELDs greatly reduce this, leading to higher productivity and happier drivers. In addition to the time savings, the FMCSA estimated that paperwork savings alone from ELDs would equal $705 per driver per year, a conservative estimate considering what ELD providers see today in their client base.
Considering that’s just savings on HOS alone, imagine what other paper intensive processes you can replace. Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports and fuel tax filings paperwork can also disappear with an ELD.
Reduced Fuel Costs…and Reduced Fuel
Saving money has always held significance with any generation. This holds true with Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. What is different about the newest generation is the importance of saving resources in addition to dollars. Conservation resonates with younger drivers.
As part of an overall fleet management system, ELDs can help identify where fuel savings can be made by reducing wasted miles, understanding idle, and promoting the best driving habits.
The cost savings are yet another added benefit to environmental conscience operations.
Modern computers with word processing software make it much easier to ensure correct spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. They greatly reduce errors. Just as computers eliminate spelling errors, ELDs eliminate form and manner errors.
The number one violation for all FMCSA related regulations are general form and manner violations from hours of service logs. ELDs not only reduce those errors, they eliminate them.
Enhanced Driver Communication
Constant communication is definitely something that appeals to younger drivers. We are in an “always on” society; you can call anyone or connect via Facebook to anyone at any time with your smartphone. You can feel lost when you don’t have that constant connection.
ELDs offer the ability to have better communication with home office. Whether it is something as simple as receiving a location update, or something as critical as receiving diagnostics on a critical engine issue before it becomes a problem, having the benefit of ELD communication technology is beneficial for both the driver as well as the home office. There is no mistaking the way the technology fits into your driver recruitment and retention scheme.
Regardless of how you feel, it IS happening
While many drivers are hesitant to move to ELDs, the fact is, the industry is moving in that direction. The industry is not moving in a vacuum; society as a whole is moving toward technology; transportation is just falling in line with society.
Oftentimes, society is hesitant to adopt change and new technology. However, the majority of the time, history shows that the advances are actually beneficial, and once changes are implemented, people don’t want to go back. We have seen this with drivers as well. Even those that initially opposed ELD implementation by their fleets say they won’t work for a fleet in the future that doesn’t use ELDs.
To keep up to date about the ELD mandate and how it affects you, visit eldfacts.com, an important new information site designed to foster industry understanding of this critical legislation.