Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter presented by XPO. In this issue, distracted driving at sea; the cheap freight problem; is automation coming for all of us; a sauerkraut spill and more.

Do ship captains need front facing cameras?

Caller ID — Truckers and 4-wheelers, the distracted driving heat is wafting over to the ocean as the pilot of the Ever Forward may be one of the first ever to have been accused of grounding a containership due to distracted driving. FreightWaves reports, A U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region report issued Tuesday determined the grounding of the vessel was caused by “the pilot’s failure to maintain situational awareness and attention while navigating and inadequate bridge resource management.”

New number, who dis? — How much chatting are we talking about here? According to the Coast Guard, the pilot spent nearly half the 126-minute voyage yacking away, with 55 minutes spent on one personal call.

I asked veteran driver and rebel rouser, Gord Magill if he thought ship captains needed the same monitoring he has to deal with as a trucker. He says, “Will the Eye of Sauron be as ineffectual as the GPS guided Navigation systems upon which the Captain was relying?”

Didn’t this happen in the Suez? — I can see where the confusion would come from after the Ever Given’s fateful grounding in 2021, but this year, Evergreen decided to continue the tradition with another grounding in Spring. Any bets on where they’ll ground in ‘23?

Just say no to cheap freight?

SONAR

You may even get 14 weeks of vacation  – Yesterday, an owner-operator on Reddit’s truckers subreddit broke down their second year in business … and the results weren’t so hot.

“This will be my second full year running the business. The first partial year was an interesting education. Last year was GREAT, basically double what you’ll see below.” – Redditor STR2

2021 saw a massive influx of capacity as drivers left company jobs to become owner-operators and any idiot with a loan wanted to start a trucking company. The problem? This is freight and as the great philosopher W. Axl Rose once said, “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.”

“The number of new entrants into the trucking industry nearly doubled the 2019 monthly record average. Since 2020, the monthly average of new fleets entering trucking has increased to 13,370 per month, up from 7,200. In April, the number hit 23,479.” – Craig Fuller, CEO and Founder at FreightWaves

The bottom line  – This owner-operator adhered to the common war cry of truckers, “Just say no to cheap freight!” Unfortunately, that also led to him sitting in his truck for 14-weeks this year. “I was ready and willing to run most weeks but I sat out about 30% of the year due to bad rates and me refusing to run cheap freight.”

All told, the year panned out as so: 

Gross Revenue $163,700.05 + $15,000 from sale of Tractor = $178,700.05

Expenses: $90,275.61Net Revenue: $88,424.44 (read the full breakdown here)

Rise of the machines

Automation station  – Truckers are rightfully concerned about the specter of autonomous trucks, but in this decade, we’re seeing and will continue to see a massive shift to automation in warehouses and brokerages long before trucking. So, it’s no surprise to see SEKO announcing their first robotics partnership as they join forces with GreyOrange.

Over the next few months SEKO will add 50 of GreyOrange’s Ranger Assist bots to its Milton Keynes, U.K. locations. The initial focus will be to aid in e-commerce. The Ranger Assist bots resemble a plastic shelf on wheels with an iPad glued to its head. These types of wired warehouse workers follow humans around and assist in picking batch orders.

Are we all screwed?  – While the media mindlessly fawns over ChatGPT, actual users asking it questions they know the answer to are calling out the flea circus. For example, when we asked it about trucking it told us that there was both a driver shortage and drivers losing jobs because of low rates and lack of demand. Even if that’s par for the course for how the MSM reports on this biz, it isn’t exactly accurate. But, words have nuance and context that coding doesn’t.

How does it perform there? Ehh, about as well. That said, there’s a lot of time to improve this and it is very likely that eventually the AI apocalypse will be on all of our doorsteps.

Truck dumps unrequested kraut on Jersey Shore … but not the GTL one

AP / ChatGPT

Smell ya later — Apparently there’s another Jersey Shore, one far away from Snookie, grenades, and workout routines that involve tanning and laundry (or lawn-dree if you’re from the block.) And now you have a reason to visit! According to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette on Tuesday, south of Route 287, a big rig slid 200 feet down an embankment and spilled its load of sauerkraut on a campground. Crews spent more than 14-hours picking up this mess but there may still be some good eating out there. Buns up. Oh, and the driver walked away with only minor injuries and a strong vinegar scent. 

PS I take back what I said about ChatGPT, it wrote that joke under the image above and I can appreciate its dad-inspired sense of humor.

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WTT Friday

AP/Dooner

Trucking: A year in rearview  — On Friday’s episode of WHAT THE TRUCK?!? FreightWaves Craig Fuller stops by the studio to talk about the year that was in freight. What was the top story in ‘22? Also, what’s the real story with wholesale vs. retail diesel prices?

Uber Freight, Convoy and J.B. Hunt just announced the Scheduling Standards Consortium. According to Uber Freight, “The SSC will establish the freight industry’s first formal set of appointment scheduling (API) standards, making it easier to book and manage appointments, optimize processes for drivers, shippers and receivers, and drive operational efficiencies for the industry at large.” We’ll find out all about it.

PGT Trucking is on a mission to go green. What solutions are they pioneering? 

TForce Worldwide visits us like the ghost of Christmas’ past and takes a look at a year of market volatility. 

Plus, this week’s good news and bad news.

With special guests FreightWaves Craig Fuller; Uber Freight’s Bill Driegert; Convoy’s Brooks McMahon; PGT Trucking’s Larry Cox; TForce Worldwide’s Tom Griffin

Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player. Now on demand

Who got on the DOT’s naughty list in ‘22?

NASA’s SWOT, Tesla Semi takes Pepsi plunge and upside-down fleet safety

PLAY

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Don’t be a stranger,

Dooner

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