“I am starting to see a generational shift from the old boys club who don’t want to keep up with changes in the industry – and I can’t blame them. Between technology changes and the regulations they face it’s almost a different industry.” — Allie Knight, Millennial, Long-Haul Truck Driver (via TruckDrivingJobs.com)
We recently launched our Ask the Experts series where expert guest speakers participate in a live-video discussion and analysis on recent news stories and research in emerging tech that highlights a particular problem or potential of the technology for us to explore through an interactive Q&A session.
In this session, The Future of Trucking and Driverless Trucks, we welcomed the awesome Allie Knight (a long-haul truck driver (since 2014) who has driven trucks across 48 states and a popular YouTuber who documents her experiences driving trucks and advocating to make trucking better for everyone) to speak about how trucking is changing as a result of technologies (and other market forces) and where the opportunities are for entrepreneurs who would like to develop solutions for the industry.
Below are some of the topics we covered:
* The U.S. doesn’t have enough truckers, and it’s starting to cause prices of about everything to rise (Washington Post)
* America has a massive truck driver shortage. Here’s why few want an $80,000 job (Washington Post)
* Could Self-Driving Trucks Be Good for Truckers? That’s what a new study from Uber’s self-driving-truck team says, and a variety of trucking experts think they might be right. (The Atlantic)
* What We Need to Know about Emerging Technologies and America’s Truck Driver Shortage (Seth Clevenger)
* US ports from coast to coast brace for possible impact from China trade war (CNBC)
Allie also explains the biggest problems in the trucking industry that aren’t being addressed, but that really need to be solved. And, as Allie notes when explaining each problem, not all solutions are technological, so all kinds of products and services are needed.
Allie’s intro and presentation starts at 14:24 (followed by her Q&A). It was an enlightening and fun sessions and there was no shortage of questions.
Highlights of What We Learned:
As Allie mentioned in the call, the biggest problem in trucking is drivers’ inability to find trucking (poor driver health and lack of healthy food alternatives and the truck driver shortage would come next on the list). It’s a problem that costs drivers and trucking companies a lot of money and causes unnecessary problems and stress yet, according to Allie, there are no real technological solutions to this problem (though you’d think there would be!). Problems in the trucking industry are fairly ignored by the startup community (particularly in tech).
The most overlooked devastating consequence of America’s trade war with China (and the world) is that trucking and shipping will be hit hard and the impact on trucking will be devastating (the gains in salary increases this year could be wiped out while a lot of truckers might be forced out of work).
Contrary to the popular belief that driverless trucks will replace truck drivers, Allie informs us that, in fact, they will likely increase the number of drivers because (similar to commercial flying) two human drivers would be needed in the cab to monitor the driverless truck instead of one driver needed to operate the truck today. Additionally, Allie says she can’t wait for driverless trucks because it will make their jobs easier and safer!
There’s a ton of opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies to work on solutions in the trucking industry that would be lucrative and rewarding. The problem is the lack of awareness in the general population about the trucking problems and opportunities. To that end, Allie’s question to us (posted below) is one that not only Allie, but every trucking operator and truck driver would kill to know, is a pressing one we need to answer.
Audience Questions for Allie:
After Allie’s presentation where she gave us an eyeopening overview of the trucking industry from the perspective of truck drivers, we turned started the Q&A with questions from attendees:
- What regulations do you think need to be in place for autonomous trucks?
- What working condition do think is the worst disincentive to attracting new drivers to the trucking industry?
- What is your biggest safety concern when you are on a job?
- What are the greatest challenges you have faced, as truck driver and as female truck driver?
- I would like to know, what is the potential for the first year for someone starting out in the business?
- What could be some of the future roles/ responsibilities of the millennial truckers (not the usual answers – perhaps new opportunities) and what would their lives be like?
- Of all the “disruptive” technologies, what are you most excited to see “disrupt” the shipping & logistics space?
- Are you a part of any unions or trucking organizations?
- What made you decide to be a truck driver?
- What efforts are there to attract women to truck driving?
- Is the reason why they haven’t addressed it [trucks that can’t find parking] because they haven’t seen it affect the process of getting goods to their destination? or has it just not been raised enough as a concern?
- For overland loads, what do you think of organizing tag or relay team to deliver the load with each member designated to a certain number of miles and hands off to team member?
- Why will self driving trucks make the truck driver’s job easier?
Allie’s Question to Us
“What kind of awareness campaign do you think would be most effective to tell the general populous what the trucking industry is really like and what they can do to help change it?” — Allie Light
To answer the questions, post your feedback to Allie in our Think Tank Forum at: bit.ly/alliequestion
Follow Allie Online
- Website: http://www.allieknight.com
- Twitter: @gluttnous
- YouTube: youtube.com/user/AllieKnight
- FB: facebook.com/allieknightandsteve/
- Instagram: @allieknightandsteve
See Previous Events We’ve Done on this Topic