Happy New Year! 2018 promises to be an exciting time, so for your consideration, I’m sharing my eight predictions for the coming year (in no particular order). What do you think? Weigh in on the conversation on our Facebook page and let us know!
1. Hours of Service adjustment
Note I didn’t say “fix”. Let’s face it—hours of service will never have a true fix. I predict the FMCSA or Congress will come up with something allowing drivers more time on the road.
Predicted timeframe: Whether it’s a change to the ever confusing split sleeper provision or an allowance for long detention stays, any fixes won’t occur until the end of the year (after the ELD mandate exposes the multitudes of industry inefficiencies).
2. Broker responsibility for detentions
Detention times are a true problem (not just something made up by carriers and drivers per the ELD mandate). I predict this means brokers will be forced to pay for detention times. To maintain their working margins for business, brokers will either force higher rates from shippers or they’ll force shippers and receivers to be more efficient when loading and unloading drivers. Two hours will still be the standard time frame for allowed detention times, but anything longer will become an anomaly.
Predicted timeframe: Mid-year 2018.
3. Driver coercion/harassment lawsuit
Many (wrongly) assume the ELD mandate only applies to drivers and carriers. The potential is there, then, for a shipper, receiver, or broker to ask drivers more frequently where they are—and they may even ask a driver to drive even when they’re out of hours. Another issue? Driver coercion. A driver sitting in detention being asked to move their vehicle without the sufficient hours to find parking.
Predicted timeframe: My bet? A receiver is caught up in the mandate coercion/harassment policy and is sued before mid-year.
4. Autonomous trucking takes a hit
With increasing public concern due to public road tests, the DOT and Congress will be forced to create regulations surrounding autonomous trucking. Pair this up with lingering concerns of the death of a driver in a Tesla whose system didn’t recognize the semi in front of him in Kentucky last year, and you have a perfect storm for politicians to act.
Predicted timeframe: Fall of 2018
5. New tech: Say hello to Blockchain
From alternative fuels to the ELD, someone’s always increasing industry efficiency. By the end of the year, expect certain, major, shippers to request the use of Blockchain technology. Blockchain, the main Bitcoin tracking method, will be used to efficiently track the shipment of goods from start to finish. Whether the pressure to implement Blockchain comes from suppliers in the US or from manufacturers overseas, one thing’s for certain: Blockchain is hot—and it’s here to stay.
Predicted timeframe: Summer 2018
6. Infrastructure help?
As you probably already know from experience, US roads aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. In fact, plenty of reports suggest the nation’s roads and bridges are crumbling. Stop gap spending can’t be expected to keep the system from utterly falling apart as it has over the last two decades. Is 2018 the year that changes?
Predicted timeframe: Not in 2018, at least according to the Federal Government and the DOT.
7. Rates strong, increased intermodal
Spot market rates should remain high through 2018, thanks to the introduction of ELDs and drivers being forced to abide more closely to hours of service regulations. Expect some driver attrition due to ELDs, which could result in fewer available drivers.
Intermodal companies will see an increase in use and rates, as well. Container liners across the world will finally see stability in their portion of the industry, helping to simplify US spot market rate predictions.
Predicted timeframe: 2018. Don’t expect the big seasonal swings that have occurred in the past (summer highs and winter lows).
8. More new owner-operators
Older drivers are leaving the industry, and the FMCSA has been pushing to entice military vets to enter trucking. This combination means 2018 could be the year with the greatest influx of new drivers. Expect these new drivers to benefit from the high rates and high volume of opportunity.
Predicted timeframe: July 2018
Until next time, we here at Truckstop.com hope that 2018 is a banner year for you and your company.
There was plenty of other information rolling through this week. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regulatory Affairs Analyst Jeremy Feucht follows the latest political and legislative processes, along with their potential effects, on the trucking industry. He has worked in the U.S. Senate and has served as a member of Planning and Zoning, City Council, and Urban Renewal boards.