Truck driver looking at data

“Hey Alexa” has become a universal phrase synonymous with the need to get something done. Amazon’s in-home voice assistance program is more than happy to tell you both the weather and how to whip up your favorite meal, all without taking a breath. Alexa is the model of efficiency — something that is imperative to the livelihood of both fleet owners and drivers. It is no secret that there is a driver shortage, at the very same moment that the industry is experiencing an upswing in the demand for trucks. Now more than ever, the need for efficiency is imperative to the livelihood of both fleet owners and drivers. Technology can be the key to unlocking the true potential of drivers, in turn ushering the entire trucking industry into the future.

Some fleet owners have already started to implement technology into their fleets that has resulted in increased efficiency, as well a newfound level of driver engagement they hadn’t experienced before. Mauricio Paredes, VP of business technology at P&S Transportation, has been surprised by how well his drivers have taken to voice assistance in their cabs. “They’re able to query for [business] vital signs,” he says, “and now they want to know what else it can do, didn’t foresee that.”

It may seem like a no brainer — who wouldn’t implement systems to make great drivers better? But getting drivers to react positively to changes in their routine or introducing new processes is often easier said than done. Yet the results of implementing this kind of technology speak for themselves.

When given a survey by Verizon Connect and Bobit Business, 49 percent of respondents reported that their fleets saw an increase in productivity after the implementation of GPS technologies. The increase was attributed to the fact that drivers were able to get more done while recognizing better and safer ways to accomplish their goals.

With the technology takeover in full swing, many simply invest in a system that they’ve heard has worked for others. This may sound good in theory, but could be a temporary Band-Aid as opposed to prescribing the medication that solves the problem long-term. Although the tech may help, making sure drivers are continuously learning is just as important.

Smith Systems agrees. Having recently released a series of advanced short driving videos as refreshers for drivers, this e-learning platform was developed to decrease the problem areas many fleets are experiencing. In describing the Smith Systems offering, President and CEO Tony Douglass says, “With this series, companies are able to provide refresher training on specific problem areas their drivers might be having.” Throwing money at the problem rarely produces long-term solutions. For fleet owners who understand this — and are also committed to the efficiency and engagement of their drivers — continued e-learning is a great opportunity.

As the trucking industry continues to find its way in an ever-changing economy, the word “technology” is often thrown around with reckless abandon. Talking about a tech revolution can bring both fear and anxiety to fleet owners and drivers alike. The suspicion of possibly losing one’s job or position to a “robot” is very real, but for the industry to withstand the current labor shortage, technology must be seen as an ally — not the enemy. Implementation ultimately comes down to the drivers: You will see results you want to see when you give them tech that not only works, but also tech that they love to use.