Addressing the driver shortage is one of the most pressing issues facing the Australian trucking industry. With demand and the transport task expected to increase, jobs are predicted to grow by 8 per cent within the next five years. The average truck driver is reaching retirement age, businesses are faced with the pressure to find ways to maximise their current talent while staying on the look-out for new hires. According to Peter Anderson, the Chief Executive Officer for the Victorian Transport Association, businesses are having a hard time doing this due to negative perceptions surrounding truck driving. Despite the industry’s technological advances, driving a truck is seen as demanding, arduous and worst of all - just a job, not a career.
Whilst it’s up to the individual transport businesses and industry groups to beat these misconceptions, a great way to bridge this gap is by demonstrating how technology has reshaped the average fleet and made transport a safer, more efficient industry that curves the perception away from danger.
Here are five ways technology can help to keep your best drivers on the roads and attract new ones.
Safety is a big concern for the transport industry. Being on the road for long hours, often in isolated areas, puts drivers at risk of fatigue and makes it difficult for you to react quickly if there’s an incident. GPS fleet software helps to track vehicles even in remote locations where phone reception is scarce and continues to notify drivers to when to take breaks or when upcoming stop signs are approaching. Providing a means to notify both the driver and back-office staff in real-time helps ensure a safer experience, while keeping track of dangerous handling, such as harsh braking and cornering, which could indicate fatigue.
Telematics can also shorten trip turnaround times. Whether it’s optimised routes or being redirected to the next safest course to take on the road-network, improved safety and navigation technology reduces stress and allows drivers to confidently face the unexpected.
Every fleet needs an immediate, open line of communication between drivers, customers and management to be successful. If a customer calls wanting to change a delivery location or find out the expected time of arrival, your back-office staff need a way to get in touch with the driver. Two-way messaging tools and vehicle tracking help reduce this friction throughout the delivery process. Issues can be addressed quickly, driver locations can be checked and new directions can be sent instantly. This means when bumps in the road arise, drivers aren’t dreading the work ahead as any issues are easily rectified and have limited impact to their workflow.
The industry learning curve can be quite steep for newcomers. On busy highways with lots of different vehicles navigating around each other, drivers often feel pressured to break speed limits or brake harder to avoid them. Patience can start to wear thin. Having an easy to follow on-boarding process stops inconsistent habits taking place allowing drivers to focus on the task correctly.
Trucks fitted with telematics send alerts to drivers if they begin to drive recklessly, notifying management if they don’t correct their behaviour. This information is intelligently displayed through a scorecard system, where managers, staff and drivers can view and compare driving behaviours. You can replay events and use them as tools to educate drivers about on-road safety. Drivers can then review and track their progression, helping to improve the overall safety of the fleet.
Reward Good Driving
Drivers spend a lot of time on the road working alone, so recognising a job well done gives them a sense of worth in their role. Scorecards are not only learning tools as they can highlight when drivers are performing well, making it easy to recognise and reward good behaviour. Fleet analytics and legacy reports are an excellent way to improve the morale of your drivers. Driver scorecarding gives you insights into a drivers on-road behaviour by focusing on positive trends rather than once-off issues to help map progression within the business. When good work is recognised and rewarded, drivers have more incentive to stay with a company as it makes them feel valued and part of a wider team.
Cut Out the Paperwork
Any job with a tonne of manual processes will be a turn-off for a generation of digital natives, so transport can be a hard sell for younger employees. Drivers are required to fill out a great deal of paperwork (engine data, kilometres travelled, work and rest times, etc.), especially when they’re subcontractors that can work for different companies who would all have different processes. In-cabin driver tools remove the need for these manual processes and make day-to-day responsibilities easy. Automating forms reduces the risk of non-compliance and gives more time back to drivers. Electronic work diaries (EWD) help to reduce fatigue by keeping track of rest breaks and sending the data straight to the office. This eliminates the risk of duplicate data while also ensuring drivers don’t over exert themselves. Implementing these kinds of solutions shows that you care about the wellbeing of your workers and improves the overall efficiency of the business.
Potential drivers need to see the value in the work they can do for your fleet. They want fulfilling roles in forward-thinking companies. Integrating the technology that has become so ingrained in their everyday lives shows drivers that the transport industry has many possibilities for growth and progression.