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Tackling the Driver Shortage with Technology


THE CHALLENGES AND BEAUTY A DRIVER EXPERIENCES ON THE ROAD.


BY MAX FARRELL Guest Writer


“I can’t believe that truck is going so damn


slow!” I remember thinking this and sometimes


yelling it while driving on my trips back and forth on interstate 80. I only knew trucks as a road annoyance, nothing more. I was oblivious to the essential fact that


trucking keeps America moving. Why? No one in my circle of connections was immediately tied to the industry. So I remained blissfully ignorant about why these 3.4 million trucks were moving across the United States. Surely there had to be something significant about the trucks other than the fact they haul “stuff”, but this was never exposed to me.


DISCOVERING THE CHALLENGE I launched a new consulting business after spending a few years helping an emerging


12


Midwest startup tech company grow beyond 500,000 users. I have always enjoyed taking on big challenges, intricately understanding problems and producing innovative solutions to them from a new perspective. A mentor challenged me to focus on one


specific industry, noting that focus breeds clear thinking. He encouraged me to go after an industry with challenges and opportunities. Tere are challenges and opportunities in all industries, but one he mentioned grabbed me. My mentor mentioned trucking and the challenges laying ahead for this industry. Te numbers immediately jumped out at me: a 48,000 driver shortage and an eye-opening 97% turnover rate across the trucking industry. Tere’s an urgency to bring new blood into the industry while also figuring out how to keep the great talents in the industry or with a specific company. Understanding the state of the industry


ABOUT THE INDUSTRY, IT’S ANOTHER TO EXPERIENCE LIFE ON THE ROAD. VERY FEW PEOPLE WITHOUT PRIOR TIES TO THE INDUSTRY ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE


IT’S ONE THING TO TALK TO DRIVERS


was enough for me to dig in, so I started picking up the phone. I talked with drivers, execs, office staff and allied supporters of the industry and asked why these challenges where happening and how they address them. After many conversations, I put together


my first presentation on engaging millennials to become drivers with the Arkansas Trucking Association. Te crowd appreciated the outside perspective shared. Great feedback was received, but I knew I needed to dig deeper, so I hit the road with an over-the-road driver.


EXPERIENCING THE ROAD FIRST HAND It’s one thing to talk to drivers about the


industry, it’s another to experience life on the road. Very few people without prior ties to the industry actually experience the challenges and beauty a driver experiences on the road. Fortunately, I connected with a driver named Charles who drives a regular route from Des Moines, IA to Los Angeles and he offered for me to tag along with him on the road. We spent three days riding together in order to better understand the life of a driver. We slept in the truck, we ate the truck and we showered at truck stops. We faced seven hour delays getting unloaded in Los Angeles and experience the frustrations that can occur in company to driver communication while on the road. Charles was hauling meat products to the


coast in order to bring back fresh produce to the Midwest. I knew the next week a portion of the fruit that I bought at the grocery


NEBRASKA TRUCKER — ISSUE 5, 2015 — www.nebtrucking.com


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