WASHINGTON — Even though deployment of automated heavy-duty trucks, including self-driving trucks, being developed for long-haul trucking operations is likely years or a decade away, the General Accounting Office Thursday urged federal agencies to take additional steps to prepare for potential workforce effects
“Most technology developers said they were developing trucks that can travel without drivers for part of a route, and some stakeholders said such trucks may become available within five to 10 years,” the GAO said in a report on a study it had conducted. “Various technologies, including sensors and cameras, could help guide a truck capable of driving itself. However, the adoption of this technology depends on factors such as technological limitations and public acceptance.”
The GAO said it conducted the study because automated vehicle technology may eventually make commercial trucking more efficient and safer, but also has the potential to change the employment landscape for nearly 1.9 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, among others.
The GAO said it was asked to examine the potential workforce effects of automated trucking, but didn’t say who requested it.
The report noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation had been consulting with the Department of Labor to conduct a Congressionally-directed analysis of the workforce impacts of automated trucking by March 2019.
The GAO said stakeholders it interviewed predicted two main scenarios for how the adoption of automated trucks could affect the trucking workforce, which varied depending on the future role of drivers or operators.
“Technology developers, among others, described one scenario in which self-driving trucks are used on highway portions of long-haul trips,” the study report said. “Stakeholders noted this scenario would likely reduce the number of long-haul truck drivers needed and could decrease wages because of lower demand for such drivers. In contrast, groups representing truck drivers, among others, predicted a scenario in which a truck would have an operator at all times for complex driving and other non-driving tasks, and the number of drivers or operators would not change as significantly.”
However, the study found that those stakeholders lacked consensus on the potential effect this scenario might have on wages and driver retention, adding that most stakeholders said automated trucking could create new jobs, and that any workforce effects would take time — providing an opportunity for a federal response, such as any needed policy changes.
For the study, GAO interviewed officials from DOT and DOL, as well as a range of stakeholders, including technology developers, companies operating their own trucking fleets, truck driver training schools, truck driver associations and workforce development boards.
As a result of the study, GAO made four recommendations for executive action:
- The Secretary of Labor should collaborate with the Secretary of Transportation to continue to convene key groups of stakeholders to gather information on potential workforce changes that may result from automated trucking as the technology evolves, including analyzing needed skills and identifying any information or data gaps, to allow the agencies to fully consider how to respond to any changes. These stakeholders could include, for example, representatives of other relevant federal agencies, technology developers, the trucking industry, organizations that represent truck drivers, truck driver training schools, state workforce agencies, and local workforce development boards.
- The Secretary of Transportation should collaborate with the Secretary of Labor to continue to convene key groups of stakeholders to gather information on potential workforce changes that may result from automated trucking as the technology evolves, including analyzing needed skills and identifying any information or data gaps, to allow the agencies to fully consider how to respond to any changes.
- The Secretary of Transportation should consult with the Secretary of Labor to further analyze the potential effects of automated trucking technology on drivers to inform potential workforce-related regulatory changes, such as the requirements to obtain a commercial driver’s license or Hours of Service requirements (e.g., the maximum hours commercial truck drivers are permitted to work).
4. The Secretary of Labor should consult with the Secretary of Transportation to share information with key stakeholders on the potential effects of automated trucking on the workforce as the technology evolves. These stakeholders could include, for example, representatives of other relevant federal agencies, technology developers, the trucking industry, organizations that represent truck drivers, truck driver training schools, state workforce agencies, and local workforce development boards.
Kenworth T880S with 52-, 76-inch sleepers now available for order
KIRKLAND, Wash. — The Kenworth T880S with a set-forward front axle is now available for order with Kenworth’s 52-inch and 76-inch mid-roof sleepers.
The T880S sleeper configurations are focused on heavy haul and severe highway applications where ruggedness is especially required.
The two sleeper options enable the T880S to meet both overall combination length and weight distribution needs, and are applicable for both Canadian and U.S. markets, according to Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director.
Kenworth’s 76-inch mid-roof sleeper can be ordered with either the optional back wall storage system or folding upper bunk.
The optional Kenworth Idle Management System provides a factory-installed, battery-based auxiliary power unit (APU). A premium sound system and flat screen TV mount are among other options that provide further driver comfort and satisfaction.
The Kenworth 52-inch mid-roof sleeper is a welcome sanctuary when the schedule requires a short layover. The sleeper features a liftable lower bunk and upper storage units on the sleeper’s back wall, including hanging storage for clothes and jackets. A bunk heater, flat screen TV, premium sound system and factory-installed inverter with optional shore power are available for additional comfort. The many driver comfort amenities help give the Kenworth T680’s 52-inch mid-size sleeper the feel of a larger sleeper.
Swihart said both sleepers provide excellent interior height clearance, enabling a driver or passenger up to 6-foot-4 to easily stand up between the seats. Specifying the 180-degree optional passenger swivel seat further expands the living space and enables the driver to use both the cab and the sleeper as a comfortable space for relaxation – when not driving.
“Our high-quality sleeper options for the T880S provides customers with an additional opportunity for enhanced driver comfort in their efforts for cost-effective operations and increased driver retention and recruitment,” Swihart said.
The T880S is offered with a set-forward front axle ranging from 14,600 pounds to 22,800 pounds, and is standard with the PACCAR MX-13 engine with up to 510 hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque. For weight-sensitive applications, the 10.8-liter PACCAR MX-11 engine is 400 pounds lighter than larger displacement engines, and provides up to 430-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque.
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Lippert Components introduces somnum Sleeper Series pillows for long-haul drivers
ELKHART, Ind. — Lippert Components (LCI), a supplier of highly engineered components to the mobile and leisure transportation industries, has introduced somnum Sleeper Series pillows for long-haul, heavy truck drivers.
These machine washable pillows are made with hypoallergenic down-alternative fill, and the covers are 100% cotton, 350 thread count and double stitched to increase the lifespan of the pillow.
Designed to endure the ever-fluctuating temperatures and persistent moisture commonly found in sleeper environments, somnum premium pillows provide the perfect balance of support and comfort for a good night’s sleep, helping increase driver alertness while on the road, according to Mike Padrnos, business development manager at LCI.
Featuring both soft and firm options, the pillows come in two sizes, jumbo and king.
In addition to their premium comfort level, the somnum Sleeper Series pillows are 100% machine-washable, making it easier for them to retain their original freshness and shape, Padrnos
“A key purpose of a pillow is to keep your neck comfortably and safely aligned with your spine,” he said. “Having a great pillow contributes to a good night’s sleep when you’re at home. That being said, pillow quality is just as important for truck drivers who travel long hours and sleep in their trucks.”
Padrnos that while alignment is important, LCI had also paid special attention to personal comfort by ensuring that the somnum Sleeper Series features a variety of different pillow options.
“Everyone has their own personal preferences, so we created both soft and firm pillow options,” he said.
Padrnos said that in the fall of 2018, Donna Mooney, vice president of human resources at Titan Transfer, a freight carrier company, sought to find a “different and unique” gift for the company’s 400-plus trucks and corresponding drivers for Newsal Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
“We tried all the typical items: polo shirts, hats, gift cards, etc. I spent quite a bit of time online, shopping to find just the right gift,” Mooney said. “The somnum pillow caught my interest. The pillows ended up being a tremendous hit with our drivers, so much so that we had several drivers order additional pillows for their residential homes.”
“We’ve heard that truck drivers love somnum pillows from direct feedback at truck shows and from fleets like Titan Transfer that have introduced them to their drivers through their company stores or given them out as driver gifts. A new pillow is a small but meaningful upgrade to a Class 8 sleeper berth,” Padrnos said. “Fleets that are using somnum pillows as part of their driver incentive/reward programs are receiving gratitude from drivers for such a thoughtful gesture. Realistically, many people aren’t replacing their pillows nearly enough.”
For more information about somnum Sleeper Series pillows and how they can be purchased for your driver appreciation program, email [email protected].
For more information, contact [email protected]
Navistar to make capital investments at Huntsville engine plant
LISLE, Ill. — Navistar, a maker of commercial trucks and buses, has decided to make capital investments of approximately $125 million in new and expanded manufacturing facilities in the state of Alabama, the company said Monday.
The investment will bring 145 additional jobs to the company’s Huntsville facility.
The company, which already manufactures International brand diesel engines at the plant, plans to make the new investments over the next three years.
Its intent is to produce next-generation big-bore powertrains developed with its global alliance partner TRATON, formerly known as Volkswagen Truck & Bus AG.
“Over the last two decades, the state of Alabama has been a wonderful partner for Navistar as we have developed and produced big-bore engines and other products in the state,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Today, we are excited to have the opportunity to expand our presence in Alabama, while adding to our array of next-generation products.”
The principal engine currently built at Navistar’s Huntsville plant is the International A26, a 12.4 liter big-bore engine that is offered in Class 8 on-highway trucks such as the International LT Series and RH Series, as well as in vocational trucks such as the International HV Series and HX Series.
“Navistar has been a longstanding corporate partner in our community and we are glad to see the company continues to see Huntsville as a strategic part of their growth strategy,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “We welcome the new production component to Navistar’s manufacturing operations and look forward to a successful future.”
Navistar International Corp. is a holding company whose subsidiaries and affiliates produce International brand commercial and military trucks, proprietary diesel engines, and IC Bus brand school and commercial buses. An affiliate also provides truck and diesel engine service parts. Another affiliate offers financing services.
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