Ask the Experts
Ask the Experts is a new Tech 2025 online learning series that offers a unique twist on learning about emerging technologies. Expert guest speakers participate in live video discussion and analysis on recent hot topics in the news and research on emerging technologies that highlight a particular problem or potential of the technology for us to explore through an interactive Q&A session. Then, we turn the tables and our guest speaker will ask 3 questions of participants to help solve the problem (making YOU the expert).
Our Guest Expert for this session is Allie Light (a self-professed “Weird Chick from Boston by way of Texas and Montana”) is a rare truck driver. She is a female, millennial (33 years old), long-haul truck driver (since 2014). She trained and drove for USA Trucks for about a year and then hauled flatbeds for Legacy Transportation. During this time she achieved YouTube stardom by sharing her unique experiences driving trucks across America, learning the road, and being a millennial trucker determined to make trucking more appealing for millennials and women. By the way, the demographic of Allie’s audience on YouTube is 94% men, aged 24 to 55.
“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)
The Big Problem That Needs to Be Solved ASAP
By now, you may have heard about the potentially devastating shortage of truck drivers in America that threatens to crater our economy in the next 10 years. If you haven’t, read this article: The U.S. doesn’t have enough truckers, and it’s starting to cause prices of about everything to rise (Washington Post, May 21, 2018), and this follow up article: America has a massive truck driver shortage. Here’s why few want an $80,000 job and this blog post by Seth Clevenger (Managing Editor at Transport Topics): What We Need to Know about Emerging Technologies and America’s Truck Driver Shortage
Main points you need to know for this session:
- Shipping costs have skyrocketed in the United States in 2018. Higher transportation costs are beginning to cause prices of all products shipped by trucks to rise significantly. As a result, consumers are now paying more for goods and are seeing delays in deliveries.
- Because the average age of truck drivers in the US is 50 years old (and 95% male), a generation of truckers are preparing for retirement over the next 10 years but millennials are ignoring trucking job openings because they fear self-driving trucks will soon replace them;
- On top of that, the federal government imposed a new rule in December requiring drivers to be on the road for no more than 11 hours at a time and to track their time by an electronic device so they can’t cheat (cutting the number of hours drivers can be on the road).
- The US has had a truck driver shortage for years, but experts say it’s hitting a crisis level this year. As e-commerce increases from Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers, strain is being placed on our nation’s transportation system, which is already struggling to find drivers to deliver the goods.
- The trucking industry needs to hire 890,000 NEW truck drivers to keep pace with growth and demand for freight transportation.
- So in order to people to trucking jobs, shipping companies are raising the income of truckers significantly (some trucking jobs for new drivers are as high as $80,000 per year).
- But as driver pay rises quickly and diesel fuel costs tick up, shipping companies are charging higher and higher rates to move goods.
- Higher transportation costs are causing prices of anything shipped on a truck to rise . Amazon, for example, just implemented a 20 percent hike for its Prime program that delivers goods to customers in two days, and General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and Betty Crocker, said prices of some of its cereals and snacks are going up because of an “unprecedented” rise in freight costs. Consumers will continue to see prices rise if the coming crisis isn’t reversed.
- Over time, automation will be part of the answer. Safety systems could make the job easier, which could expand the pool of potential job candidates. The development of autonomous trucks is making progress, but they will probably be limited to small deployments for quite a while.
Can driverless trucks and other technologies help to avoid a labor shortage crisis?
There have been various suggested solutions by experts to the truck driver shortage including: Driverless trucks (The US might need self-driving trucks to avoid a labor shortage crisis) and other technologies, lowering the legal age , and Raising salaries of drivers. Seth Clevenger (Managing Editor of Transport Topics who spoke at our Driverless Truck presentation last year) thinks automation is only part of the solution. Read his thoughts on the topic here.
But what do drivers think (they know about the problem in a first-hand way better than anyone)? And what are the opportunities available for people outside of trucking to solve this problem (entrepreneurs, freelancers, services, etc.)?
In this session, we’ll ask questions and explore this problem from the perspective of a millennial truck driver, Allie Knight, who knows, from the truck driver’s perspective, what the real problem is and how we might solve it. Bring your questions and be prepared to answer a few too. Ya never know, we just might solve the biggest problem in shipping and transportation today! 😉