Federal regulations governing the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road each day have long been a bone of contention in the industry, with supporters arguing that driver hours-of-service caps boost safety and opponents charging they unduly hamper operations. The debate flared up again this past September, when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) eased certain restrictions to give fleets more operating flexibility during the pandemic.
Amid the controversy, one of the nation's largest asset-based truckload carriers has announced the launch of an initiative aimed at making the most of its drivers' roadtime. Last month, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress Inc. said it had partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics to develop a "roadmap to improve driver efficiency."
According to U.S. Xpress, the researchers' mission is to identify opportunities to safely maximize efficiency within the 11-hour driving window allowed within each driver's 14-hour shift. As part of the effort, graduate students in the MIT Supply Chain Management master's program are using statistical modeling and artificial intelligence to analyze company data, including global positioning system (GPS) stats for more than 7,500 tractors; loaded and unloaded data for nearly 15,000 trailers; driver hours-of-service records; shipper rates; appointment times; and arrival and departure trends.
The research findings, which the carrier says will benefit shippers, drivers, and the company, are set for release next summer.