For anyone who has headed down a grocery store aisle with hopes of seeing well-stocked shelves (yes, talking about you, paper towels and toilet paper), the importance of truckers in the global supply chain cannot be overstated.
Independent truckers deliver the majority of the items we find in our neighborhood supermarkets and department stores.* While this makes the job of an independent trucker important, it can make it hard as well.
The good news for anyone operating behind the wheel of a Class-7 or -8 truck is that technology can help reduce some of your stress and potentially increase your earnings.
In a study conducted by trucking solution company, SmartHop, nearly half of the truckers they surveyed said the quality of their job has improved over the past few years. Nearly a quarter of those truckers cited improvements in technology as the reason.
Trucking industry technology trends are always changing so let's take a look at some of the new areas where technology is helping to make a difference on the road.
Delivering a shipment on time is your bread and butter. There are a number of tools that can help you get your load to the dock faster, easier, and more cost-effectively.
Need to get across town or to the airport? There’s a good chance you might use a ride-hailing app on your phone. Digital freight matching works much the same way, connecting carriers with individuals and businesses that need to ship goods.
Like ride-hailing apps, you get notified of a load and the rate. Then you can close the deal right on your phone and hit the road. Easy. There are a number of companies offering digital freight matching services, so spending some time comparing rates and features is a good idea.
While GPS technology isn’t new and is available to just about anyone with a smartphone, the GPS technology for trucking applications can offer some valuable benefits.
Because of restrictions on the types of roads you can travel on, planning a truck route is often more difficult than planning one for your personal vehicle. GPS devices for truckers are designed to find the best route, based on the height, weight, and other specs of your truck and load.
Some apps and devices feature dynamic routing that can adjust on the fly for weather or traffic conditions. They also can assist with finding convenient truck stops, parking, weigh stations, fuel stops, and more.
For many owners/operators, filling up is one of your biggest expenses. There are a number of apps that can help you find the best deals in real-time. As with many devices and apps, there are many choices out there, so take some time to compare features and prices.
Maintaining driver logs is an important part of driver safety and is often required by law. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) can help with that. They plug into ports in the truck and can report information about driver hours, location, speed, and mileage to help comply with safety requirements.
The Department of Labor cites transportation incidents as a leading cause of work-related fatalities. Here are some ways technology is helping to make the ride safer for independent drivers.
Staying alert is a critical part of staying safe while you’re driving. But driver fatigue can occur even if you follow the rules and protocols. Advances in technology have produced driver alert systems that can help detect a drowsy driver and warn them to take a break.
Some use innovative methods, such as factoring in time of day, turn signal use, steering, and trip length to help determine driver alertness.
The alert systems also come in a variety of forms, such as hats and bracelets, to make them more convenient to use.
These truck sensor technologies are similar to the driver-assist systems found in passenger vehicles. They use cameras and sensors to measure the distance between your truck and vehicles or objects in front of it.
If you get too close, they can emit a warning signal or even automatically decrease your speed or apply the brakes.
Being an independent owner/operator means you’re not only driving a truck — you’re also running a business. So when you’re not on the road, you likely need to spend extra time taking care of billing, accounting, fuel-tax management, and more.
Once again, technology can come to the rescue.
Trucking software can help you handle a wide variety of tasks more efficiently and with fewer headaches. From issuing and tracking invoices to recording and monitoring interstate fuel tax agreement (IFTA) reports, there are products designed with the needs of independent owners/operators in mind.
As with other types of technology, there are a lot of options to choose from. To help you narrow your search, here are some features and capabilities you may want to look for.
My dad was a whiz at getting all our suitcases, coolers, toys, bikes, and all sorts of other items into our Chevy Kingswood Estate station wagon when we headed out on vacation each summer.
It was (and still is) a skill that few possess. However, software can put you in the same league as my dad (and without breaking the same considerable sweat) by helping you arrange and place the cargo in your trailer so you can maximize each load.
While it’s possible to run your business with spreadsheet programs, many trucking management tools are designed with owner/operators like you in mind. That can save you a lot of set-up and ramp-up time and make it easier to create invoices and manifests. It also can make it easier to keep track of accounts, payments, and other customer information.
The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) requires many drivers to file a fuel tax report each quarter. The reports include several types of information and calculations. If navigating and preparing that kind of paperwork isn’t your thing, you may want to look for this feature in a truck management software product.
Along with those capabilities, you may find these features helpful as well:
When it comes to insurance, your first thought might be “commercial auto coverage.” While that’s important to have, insuring your trucking business may require other types of coverage.
Generally speaking, commercial auto covers risks while driving your truck. Trucking liability insurance covers potential risks and accidents that happen while you’re not driving your truck. For instance, this policy can cover incidents such as:
Technology can go a long way in making it easier to run your trucking business. The same is true when it comes to insuring that business.
With our handy online quote tool, you just tell us a little about your business, and we take it from there. In just a few minutes, we can help you find a quote for general liability coverage.
Got questions? We can help there, too. Our licensed insurance pros can get you the answers you’re looking for and get you covered. Often on the same call. You can reach them at 844-654-7272, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Whether you’re looking to be your own boss, traveling the country, or simply enjoying the lifestyle that comes with being on the open road, there are many reasons for getting behind the wheel of a multi-ton big rig.
There also are many challenges that can come with running your own trucking business. Technology has made possible a wide range of tools and innovations that can make it easier to follow the road and follow your passion.
As a 9-year-old at summer camp, I hated it — especially after being pulled screaming from the pool during the swimming competition. While this left me without an aquatic achievement patch, it also inspired the letter to my parents that got me an early release from Camp Willard. That showed me the power of writing. I’ve done my best to use it only for good ever since, such as writing helpful articles for small business owners.
Ed writes on a number of topics such as liability insurance, small business funding, and employee management.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.