Happy New Year!

My gosh, is it 2018 already? What a year 2017 was for the trucking industry. We saw several new items come into our industry; mostly good stuff. Of course, the BIG one was Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). As of December 18, 2017, all trucks entering the USA need to have an ELD or an EOBR. I hope that you have yours.

For those of you who are regular readers of this article, you know that I believe in ELDs and I think they are the best things to happen to trucking in many a year. I know that the trucking industry, because of the ELDs, are in for some pain but I believe that in the long term, ELDs will be a huge asset. Going forward, shippers will have to start to treat the driver with the respect that truck drivers deserve.

In 2017 we saw some companies give long overdue pay increases to the drivers and when I say long overdue, I mean it. In some of the previous articles that I’ve written I remembered just how much money I was making 34 years ago as a truck driver. When I added an inflation calculation to that figure it became clear that most truck drivers are not getting what I used to earn 30 years ago. Therefore I am thrilled many drivers got a raise this year. Their pay is not where they need it to be yet, but the industry has to keep moving the needle forward to take care of the drivers who sacrifice so much to get the cargo delivered on time and safely.

This year we unfortunately also witnessed several companies go out of business in Canada. Most were the small family companies, which happens to be my core business. Yes, I love helping those small fleets. We kept hearing about the driver shortage and the pressure that it may be putting on the family-run trucking company.

So what should we look forward to in 2018? Maybe I’m showing my bias and the words “look forward to” should read “what should we expect”? My feeling is that things usually change for the better and that change in 2018 will happen.

For example, here in Canada, we can expect to hear a lot more about Canadian Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). Yup, they are going to be coming to a province near you. I don’t think that we will see ELDs for Canadian trucks in 2018, but we will hear lots about them. I do expect to have many of the Provinces issue their proposed laws regarding the Electronic Logging Devices. I have read in the press that many people are expecting that they will take effect in the year 2019. I think that is a little too optimistic. I do believe that in the year 2020 we will have ELDs legislated here in Canada and truck drivers that are now required to complete paper logs will have to use Electronic Logging Devices at that time.

So what else is coming in 2018? I think you will continue to hear about the driver shortage. Of course, I don’t believe that there is a driver shortage, only a quality shortage. We are going to hear a lot more about alternative fuel vehicles such as the Tesla’s semi-truck as well as Nikola’s semi (which runs on hydrogen fuel). Both are very interesting and both vehicles will be promoted as saving energy.

I do believe that we’re going to hear a lot more about autonomous driving or self-driving trucks. I find it hard to believe that at any time soon, they will ever let a truck or car operate without a driver on our highways and byways. I think that for the foreseeable future, there will always need to be a duly licensed driver behind the seat. I believe that this is whether it is a car or truck. But I think mainly trucks! 80,000 pounds of rolling truck and cargo is colossal weight and would cause enormous amounts of damage in a crash. I would feel a lot safer knowing that in the event of a malfunction, we still have a human willing and able to take over. A human behind the controls is the way it is in an airplane and it has been like that for many years. I’m not aware of any talk in the airline industry of changing that. So let us keep the truck driver behind the wheel of self-driving trucks. And what is Safety Dawg doing in 2018? I will be continuing to expand my YouTube channel, adding more resources to my Safety Dawg website as well as developing and offering more online courses at Safety Dawg EDU.

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s work hard and make it a very safe year.

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.