It is no secret the trucking industry is indispensable to the U.S. economy. Truckers move more than 72.5% of our country’s freight, and, as of 2020, the industry employs more than 7.65 million people. This includes both drivers and related staff.
Unfortunately, the number of drivers has sharply declined, down 6.8%, resulting in a truck driver shortage. In addition, management professionals and other workers are being stretched thin across all industries, making labor supply in general a challenge.
Reasons for the truck driver shortage
Some attribute the trucker shortage to the larger nationwide labor shortage. Aging boomers are leaving the workforce just as demand for skilled labor is increasing. Others attribute the truck driver shortage to lifestyle, hours, and a general driver retention problem.
Regardless, whatever the reasons for the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S, trucking companies nationwide are now faced with an unprecedented need to maximize and optimize existing resources, both human and capital. Fortunately for them, fleet management software can help protect their bottom line through streamlined processes and increased efficiency.
How fleet management can help overcome the driver shortage
To survive current economic challenges, including the driver shortage, it has become paramount for trucking companies to find new ways to operate. Even the most efficient fleet cannot possibly meet the demands of today's operating climate alone. Those that find ways to optimize necessary processes, such as asset utilization, route optimization, preventative maintenance, and more will be the true winners of this economic shortfall.
Here are a few ways in which an all-in-one fleet management solution can help improve operating efficiency and maximize existing resources to their fullest potential.
Asset utilization to increase productivity
When it comes to your bottom line, there is little worse than idle time. After all, trucks and drivers need to be on the road to make money. Underutilized resources, both human and property, can gravely affect operating costs. Luckily, a great fleet management platform can help improve fleet productivity.
By tracking vehicle usage, a trucking company will be able to understand whether their fleet is being used to maximum capacity. Fleet managers can track key performance metrics, such as drive time, mileage, days driven, and more to better understand and redistribute assets as needed. This is important to reduce wear across vehicles, increase productivity of drivers, reduce downtime for maintenance and repair, and more.
Route optimization for fleet visibility
Another detriment to operational efficiency is poor road conditions. Traffic, accidents, and weather all play a large part in daily driver operations. A real-time view into driver location through GPS fleet tracking can offer much needed visibility to current driving conditions.
Fleet managers can use live traffic data and route analytics to redirect drivers for optimized passage. This means less time stuck in traffic, increased on-time deliveries or service calls, and more time making money. If passage is not possible, fleet managers can redirect another driver to maintain schedules.
Driver safety to reduce collisions
One of the worst things to happen to a trucking enterprise is a collision. Not only does it damage property and put drivers’ safety at risk, it also puts both out of commission. The best way to avoid this is to prevent collisions, before they happen.
A comprehensive fleet safety solution utilizing video telematics can provide all the tools needed to identify and correct risky driver behaviors, including eating and drinking, and cell phone use. Flexible coaching options can help fleet managers improve driver safety if behaviors are not self-corrected. For those accidents that are unavoidable, fleet dash cams can help exonerate drivers not at fault, saving thousands in damage and litigation costs.
Vehicle maintenance to maintain fleet health
As a fleet owner, it is important to keep your vehicles in top working order. A preventative fleet maintenance program can help ensure all vehicles are operating optimally. Fleet managers can schedule and manage service reminders for essential vehicle maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections.
Due dates can be configured with automated notifications to ensure no scheduled maintenance intervals are missed. Service history can be tracked and referenced. All in all, fleet maintenance is beneficial for everyone, keeping drivers on the road, while ultimately prolonging vehicle life for the enterprise.
Driver retention to reduce turnover
Lastly, one of the most important keys to enterprise success is learning how to reduce turnover and retain drivers. With good drivers hard to come by, it is imperative to keep them happy and healthy. For that, not only will a comprehensive driver safety program keep them safe on the road, but can be leveraged to reward safe driving practices.
By tracking corrected driver behavior, whether self-initiated or through driver coaching, fleet managers can reward drivers' performance. Essentially, it’s a way to incentivize safe driving practices, keeping drivers working hard and happy.