Artificial Intelligence & The Future of the Trucking Industry

Despite the difficulties presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the massive truck driver shortage, the trucking industry has only grown in the last two years. As people have opted to stay home more often due to safety concerns, home delivery of goods has boomed, leading to increased demand for trucking in areas that didn’t rely on it just a couple of years ago. To come out of this strange situation better suited to meet the nation’s new standards, trucking schools and professionals across the country are turning to artificial intelligence (AI). Below is a guide to how AI implementation may change the trajectory of this crucial industry for the better. 

How Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Training New Drivers

Simplifies Data Collection

When most people think of AI’s applications, they probably imagine something out of a science fiction movie. And while a few futuristic applications of the technology—such as computer-generated art and self-driving cars—are slowly becoming feasible, the most practical uses of AI are much more subtle. AI excels at gathering and analyzing data, streamlining what was once a labor-intensive process. Because of this, employers have begun using AI to gather information from workers, pick out trends in the data, and develop training tools to increase efficiency and reduce risk.

By mixing data from internal cameras that record a driver’s behaviors on the road and external cameras that keep track of traffic, road conditions, and visible hazards, companies can identify habits that maximize safety and road conditions that require the most attention. By combining these data, it’s possible to get a deeper understanding of how trucker-involved accidents occur and how they can be avoided. These dual-facing camera setups could set a new norm for standard operating procedure in the profession, leading to a continually evolving sense of how to evaluate and practice safety in the cab and on the road. 

Allows Trucking Schools to Adapt Their Instruction

The information gathered this way is integral for trucking schools, which can continually update their pedagogy and lesson plans to prioritize data-driven best practices. This information helps them determine what skills are most likely to keep a driver safe and efficient, allowing the school to place special emphasis on teaching these enhanced skills earlier in a driver’s career. With access to this quantity and quality of data, trucking schools across the nation could be much better equipped to train new drivers, especially those younger drivers who will be allowed to start careers in the industry due to the DRIVE Safe Act. 

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With the ongoing trucker shortage, it may be necessary to start training new drivers in large quantities to meet the demands of the freight industry. If that happens, having a trucking pedagogy based in large amounts of data on safety and success will be key in maintaining the high level of professionalism the industry demands. 

Another major benefit of incorporating data from AI is the sense of progress it can give to new drivers. When companies are able to identify what techniques a driver excels at and what that same driver needs to work on, it lays out a clear path toward improvement. This is particularly helpful for new drivers, who can set goals for improving their skills and watch themselves get closer to those goals with each hour on the road.

AI’s Potential to Increase Safety on the Road

Prioritizing Accident Prevention

Self-driving cars are becoming more and more common by the day, and while the technology they rely on can’t be directly translated to moving freight across the entire country, the tech can be implemented on smaller scales to increase safety. Intelligent monitoring technology can be used to minimize lane departure, adjust speed to match road conditions, enforce safe following distances, and alert drivers to forward collision risks. With these tools at their disposal, a driver is significantly better equipped to stay safe and to keep others safe on the road. 

Helping Establish Liability

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Newer systems may even employ G-force sensors, which measure moment-by-moment acceleration on multiple axes and can inform a dash camera to start recording if certain parameters are reached. By itself, this data can be used to inform drivers about how to maximize safety during turns, emergency stops, and windy conditions. Combined with the information from an intelligent monitoring system, the data offers extremely accurate accounts of what happens during an accident. These records help determine responsibility in liability cases and can protect drivers from any false claims another party would make. They could also be used to develop new training systems to give new drivers insight into how more experienced drivers handle tense situations and what can be done to navigate an emergency safely and successfully. 

Addressing Risky Behaviors

The dual-facing camera used to help train new drivers also collects data that may help experienced drivers identify seemingly innocuous behaviors that are potentially risky. These may be habits that are perfectly safe when driving private vehicles, but that carry extra risk while operating a large, commercial vehicle. Or they may be behaviors that correlate to lessened safety but are not obviously tied to any particular task behind the wheel. With this tech, even veteran drivers may find areas where they can challenge themselves to improve their ratings. 

What AI Means for the Future of Trucking

Increases in Efficiency Through Fleet Management

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For those managing the daily fleet schedules, AI offers a huge step up in efficiency, opening many possibilities for new ways of understanding routes and large-scale operations. Because artificial intelligence can process massive amounts of data much more quickly than other methods, it can help logistics professionals see new patterns in the data, pinpoint areas of weakness, and plan new routes. It can also be used to test multiple new ideas and criteria for optimization all at once. Instead of going through an arduous number-crunching process to determine the best routes for fuel, miles, time, and number of stops, schedulers can run all those criteria through the AI and have reliable results much faster. 

Route planners can also use AI to optimize efficiency on existing routes. By testing endless different configurations of stop locations, traffic patterns, and routes, the AI is able to find a stop order that will minimize downtime and drive time, freeing up more time in a driver’s day for extra stops.  

Maximizing Fuel Economy & Environmental Impact

As part of the route planning project, companies utilizing AI can also maximize for fuel efficiency. According to The Truckers Report, a single commercial semi-truck uses around $70,000 of fuel per year. That’s almost 21,000 gallons of diesel fuel per truck each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 2 million people are employed as truck drivers in the US, which means it takes billions of gallons of fuel each year to keep the country’s fleet operational. If AI finds ways to cut fuel costs and make the freight industry more efficient, it could save billions of dollars each year while also reducing the industry’s impact on globally rising atmospheric greenhouse gases. 

If you’re looking for a lucrative and fulfilling career in the growing freight industry, start your search with Hamrick Schoolin Medina, OH. For over 40 years, this trucking school has offered CDL training for beginning and advanced drivers alike. In that time, over 10,00 new truckers have graduated from their programs. The Hamrick team offers a high-caliber education through on-hand training in the field and close mentorship with their instructors, who all have years of experience informing their knowledge. Because they believe that all students deserve a shot at the career of their dreams, Hamrick School offers a robust financial aid program. Learn more about their admissions process online, and call (330) 239-2229 to request more info. 

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