Trucking’s Bumps in the Road: The State of Infrastructure
Ever since the American Society of Civil Engineers released their most recent report card detailing the state of the country’s infrastructure, several important questions have been highlighted.
The concerns were raised long ago – truck drivers and administrators have long spoke of how important good infrastructure is for freight companies. But the low score of D+ shows just how bad things have gotten, and highlights how vital it is for improvements to be made going forward.
One of the primary concerns about the bumps (or holes) in the road for truck drivers is the toll it takes on efficiency. Having to slow down, swerve, or feel the brunt of faulty infrastructure is a net loss for drivers. When roads and bridges are in better condition, drivers have less slowing them down and keeping them guessing when they’re on route to a destination.
But the case of damaged roads and bridges can mean more than problems for the current state of trucking. It can also serve as a hindrance to some new developments that hold great promise.
Driverless trucks will depend on cutting-edge devices like sensors and smart algorithms to obtain information about surroundings and process them in a matter of milliseconds. While autonomous vehicles could potentially keep themselves on track even when surrounded by other vehicles, the idea of how a truck would react upon hitting a bad crack or pothole is somewhat of an unknown.
It is possible these vehicles could discover the problems in roadways and compensate for them on the journey, but obviously less problems to deal with means fewer chances something could go wrong.
Infrastructure poses a challenge to driverless trucks in the same way it poses a challenge to human drivers. Whether one will be able to adjust better than the other remains to be seen, but the problems with America’s roads and bridges serve as a wildcard liability in all areas of freight transport.
In a perfect world, companies would be able to move forward with their plans while knowing infrastructure would be up to the task. Since that isn’t the case today, carriers and engineers must keep these potential problems in mind moving forward.