Where do you draw the line? Everybody has one. We all determine where the line is that we refuse to cross. We all have several actually, but where is your technology line drawn?

In our modern world, it seems that technology is everywhere and steadily moving forward. We have so many tools available to us nowadays to make our lives easier and our businesses more productive, yet no one can use all the tech at one time and some refuse to use what many consider basic technology.

When is the last time you have used, or even seen, a pay telephone? Can you even still make collect calls? Most have adapted, some reluctantly, to smartphones which eliminated the need for pay telephones. (For the younger crowd - pay telephones were how truckers called for loads, called home, etc. way back when. They were in all the truck stops, gas stations and many could be found on sidewalks or just a booth in the middle of nowhere. You had to stop to make phone calls and pay with coins or call collect to have the other person pay the very high long-distance charges.)

Along with smartphones came apps (applications) for a wide variety of things, but just because you put a smartphone in a driver’s hand doesn’t mean it will be used to any certain degree. Many drivers, still today, will use a smartphone and a Bluetooth device to make calls, but draw the line at using apps for certain things. Weather apps, truck stop apps, traffic map apps, and many others can be very useful for trip planning, yet some stick to the old paper atlas, a look out the window, and a finger in the wind to plan their trips. No one says you have to use all the technology available, but using some of the basic apps can help make a trip go smoother. (For the older crowd (or those leary of new technology) - apps are programs on your smartphone that, with the touch of a finger, can open a world of possibilities. Helpful trucker apps like weather anywhere in the country, fuel prices along your route, traffic conditions ahead, parking capabilities for the end of your day, and so much more.)

Then there are some truckers who seem to have no line. Even with all the tech available, they want the apps to do more and more of what should be their job. There is certainly nothing wrong with improvements, but unless you want to just hold the wheel, you should want to participate in the planning of your trip. (For the tech-hungry crowd - not all owner-operators are racing to see autonomous trucks. While it may be months or years away, try to enjoy being the decision-maker in your truck, while you still have that option.)

New trucks are full of technology. Drivers who are sticking to older trucks, really older trucks, are missing some very cool technology, as well as missing some revenue. Generally, new trucks get better fuel mileage, spend less time in the shop for repairs, and on the road earning revenue… efficiently. Should something go wrong with the technology, you will be alerted on the dash and can also be alerted via email with very specific info as to what the problem is, the severity of the problem, and where to find the nearest shop if repairs are needed. Oil drain intervals are much greater than newer trucks, saving time and money. (For the drivers of older trucks - new trucks are not as evil as many seem to think they are. They are efficient, powerful, comfortable machines. When the bottom line matters, efficiency matters.)

We all have drawn our lines and I am no different. I use many apps to help plan my route on any given day, yet I still carry a road atlas and know how to use it. I still carry a pen and paper for jotting notes when needed. I still have a CB radio, although I rarely use it, it still serves a purpose occasionally. Basic tools are on the truck for minor repairs or upgrades. Food and water are always on the truck, in case of an emergency. I like technology and use it daily, but I still have contingency plans for all the technology. You can embrace the technology that increases your safety, revenue, and productivity and still hold onto some of the old ways of doing things. Work smarter, not harder.

Use the technology available to your advantage… your competition is.

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Greg Huggins

Greg has been in the trucking industry since the late 1980s. After spending 25+ years as an owner operator with United Van Lines, he leased to Landstar Express America in 2014. Greg is always trying to learn something new and share what he has learned with others.

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