Before the pandemic began, the American trucking industry faced an existing labor shortage. But since the coronavirus, there have been other areas that have been affected as well. Consumer demand has increased, but labor productivity and new talent’s entry into the field have shrunk.
Only a handful of industries have thrived since the pandemic. Significant layoffs, work reductions, and closures have all affected the trucking industry.
Impact On The Trucking Industry:
The trucking industry is polarized due to the pandemic. Although trucking is an essential service exempt from many restrictions, drivers transporting non-essentials had no work. Those who were lucky enough to work still faced difficult working conditions. They had to work with limited facilities like food stations, washrooms, and quarantine measures.
So, where does all this leave the trucking industry? Will drivers be able to work like the pre-COVID days? Or will the industry need new creative solutions for unique needs?
For owner-operators, whose source of revenue depends on drivers hauling goods, a decrease in their number is highly impactful. Even if these drivers return, there will still be many hurdles to overcome to make the economy go back to its regular pace.
Driverless Trucks- A Solution:
Driverless trucks are a significant disruptor in the trucking industry. Although the upfront costs are hefty, this mode of transportation still decreases delivery times and can solve the ongoing driver shortage. This trend has been tested in the most stable environments but is the U.S. ready? Will these trucks be able to handle the unpredictable weather conditions of the north?
Not quite yet. We need to stick to human drivers to keep the trucking businesses working for the time being.
New Talent Acquisition:
As young Americans don’t prefer to take up careers in the transportation industry, the labor gap has increased for the past few years. The pandemic has become increasingly challenging to find new talent and retain the existing employees.
Fortunately, the government is doing its part to provide wage increase incentives, safety training requirements, and other perks.
Potential Long-Term Impacts:
- Transportation organizations must ensure that transportation networks are sturdy enough to function throughout the lockdown measures. A critical balance will be needed between reduced operations and providing capacity for essential workers to practice social distancing.
- Long-term investments will need to be rethought according to the decreased revenue trends.
- Traveling patterns may not return to normal even after the pandemic is over.
- Critical staff training will be needed so that key personnel can work through the problematic working situations of the pandemic.
Q1-What is the future of the trucking industry?
Trucks carry about 70% of all goods shipped in the U.S. This number will grow by 3.4% annually until at least 2023.
This heightened demand of the consumers coupled with a driver gap has affected the trucking industry negatively. It will take quite some time to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic completely.
Q2- Will AI take over the trucking industry?
Automated technology may replace human drivers as early as 2027. According to scientists, artificial intelligence could enter the trucking industry within the next decade. This system lets trucks drive for long periods without a human driver.
COVID-19 had a significant impact on the trucking industry like many other business sectors in the U.S. Still, there are ways to overcome most of these barriers so that the transportation industry can flourish in the coming years.
Also Read: 6 Tips For Growth As A Fleet Manager