How do you communicate with your truck drivers? Years ago the only way to communicate with drivers would be to use a land line. Drivers would find loads on a truck stop load board, and then use a pay phone to call the shipper or broker. Once tendered, the driver would again need to stop and call for directions to the shipper, occasionally stopping to make daily check calls, and finally stopping to get directions to the receiver. All of these calls were time consuming and required taking notes. Don’t forget, in addition to the manual work required to communicate, drivers also needed to navigate via a paper map—no high-tech GPS was in sight.
The personal computer and cellular telephone improved the landscape, and allowed for faster, more immediate communication. Often, this form of communication led to even more questions and concerns like, “How many drivers really carry a laptop?” and “Not every driver has a cell phone.” Well guess what? Drivers did in fact adopt that technology and they adapted quickly. These tools changed the way people interact with drivers. Technology gave carriers the ability to conduct their business on the road with a computer and a phone. Load board websites grew in popularity and drivers had a chance to stay connected to their dispatch while in transit. Drivers no longer had to look for freight; the freight could be delivered to them.
This leads us to the smartphone and tablet era of more recent years. Smartphones and tablets combine the technology of the computer and a cell phone into one convenient device. Thanks to the growth of wireless network providers, the availability and popularity of smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed. In fact, one New York Times Article shows smartphones and tablets outsell computers. Not only can drivers stay on top of their business; they can stay in touch with their families when they are out doing their job. This is the perfect tool for someone who travels as much as the trucking community. Even so, you still hear people say, “Truckers don’t have smartphones as much as the rest of us.” According to Overdrive, 65% of truck drivers now use smartphones. Going one step further, smartphones have opened up a whole new communication world: the smartphone app.
What I like about smartphone apps are their ability to narrow down what you are looking for. It’s not as broad as the internet. A weather app can tell you weather. A news app can tell you the news. In the transportation industry, there is a whole new portfolio of apps made just for truck drivers. These apps help drivers find truck stops, rest stops, restaurants, and scales. An app like the CHRWTrucks app gives you the ability to search for available loads, make check calls, and post a truck. There are apps that let drivers manage their log book, scan paperwork, or talk on a message board. All of the load information can be in the palm of a driver’s hand. In addition to apps helping truck drivers do their jobs, there are apps that show truck drivers everything from the weather forecast, nearby road conditions and closures, even how to live a healthier lifestyle on the road. The best part is that drivers can do all of these things on their time. Truckers are truly utilizing their smartphones every day. The great thing is developers are building apps specifically for the driver community. Look back at the past few years and see how truck drivers used to operate. Now look forward and see how they continue to adapt to ever-changing technology. As a driver, what’s your favorite mobile app and why?