Editor’s note: Written by Ryan Wilkinson, chief technology officer of IntelliShift, a fleet safety and management company. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.
Technology advances, the driver shortage and continued supply chain complications will dominate the challenges and opportunities for fleets in 2020. The following predictions outline what I believe we will see over the next 12 months:
- Supply chain issues will continue well into 2022, and likely into the following year. The continuation of electronic component shortages like microchips will impact various industries, causing a trickle-down effect where manufacturers will outsource to other factories, taking space away from other components that are needed to complete critical supply chain products.
- Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or quick fix for the driver shortage and it will continue to worsen in 2022. To help ease the challenge, companies will need to provide more flexible working hours and better benefits to attract and retain drivers. Regulatory changes, such as the DRIVE-Safe Act, should also be pushed forward in 2022, lowering the age limit for a commercial driver’s license to 18, enabling a larger pool of eligible drivers to enter the market.
- With high or volatile fuel prices likely to continue in 2022, ensuring fleets are in top condition will be crucial to fight rising costs. In 2022, fleet managers will need to perform regular maintenance checks and inspections, which can drastically improve fuel efficiency. Fleet managers will also need to monitor and educate drivers on behaviors like idling and hard acceleration, which rapidly increase fuel use when left unchecked.
- The need to update fleets with modern safety features will be stressed in 2022. There are many older commercial trucks on the roads today that are not equipped with safety measures that should be table stakes. Features such as backup cameras, multiple sensors for lane departure, and seat belt sensors are ever-present in passenger vehicles – and 2022 will be the year that commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard.
- In 2022 and beyond, artificial intelligence (AI) will become more ingrained in transportation and road safety, with AI-enabled cameras and sensors built into both commercial and personal vehicles to prevent distracted, drowsy or impaired driving. This trend will escalate even more with the passing of the Infrastructure bill, which includes measures around incorporating anti-drunk driving technology in all new cars. In the fleet industry, we will also continue to see a rise in the technology used in commercial vehicles to make trucking a safer and more appealing career, which is crucial amid the current driver shortage.
- AI will create even more connected data to create a safer world, from the continued development of connected commercial vehicles to in-car sensors that measure the levels of elements in a driver’s breath to detect health issues. These innovations through AI will ultimately create safer roads for all drivers.
- AI has become the ultimate buzzword and will continue on this trajectory, being claimed by various different technologies – even when it’s not technically AI. The true differentiator will lie in its predictive capabilities and use of machine learning, enabling true AI to evolve to become even smarter and more precise.
- We will continue to see advancements in camera technology within the fleet industry – the modern camera today is 10x more powerful than even a few years ago. This advanced technology will give drivers the ability to have eyes on multiple areas of the road at one time, allowing for more real-time feedback and quick adjustments – thus preventing more accidents in the future.
- Cell phone use will become restricted in all commercial vehicles– regardless of state laws. This will be enforced through the use of technology. Bluetooth will connect phones to the fleet vehicle and block use – other than for emergency calls – while the vehicle is in motion. This will be enforced by the private companies that employ these drivers, highlighting the growing recognition of the need for safety and preventing distracted driving on the road.
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