Top10 Editors Picks 2022

FleetOwner’s top 10 stories of 2022

Dec. 27, 2022
Staff editors picked these 10 stories as some of our best journalism of the year. Issues related directly to drivers came to the fore, but this year’s stories ran the gamut, representing a wide range of trucking-industry issues.

As we close out another year, the editors of FleetOwner have picked these 10 stories as a sampling of some of our best work in 2022. They represent the top examples of our reporting, writing, editing, and presentation standards—which is our commitment to you, our industry and readers.

When putting together this list we discovered that our top 10 stories have a couple of common threads: How events affected business conditions in trucking and operations in the industry and how emerging technologies will shape the future of freight hauling.

Without further hesitation, we present our best stories—and wish our industry a healthy and prosperous new year!

10. Cummins unveils fuel-agnostic internal combustion engine strategy

The path to a zero-emission destination in trucking is transitory and based on options that fit specific fleet duty cycles. With that in mind, Cummins is expanding its powertrain platforms and giving truck OEMs and fleet end-users access to a range of lower-carbon fuel types.

As the industry’s first "unified, fuel-agnostic" engines, Cummins’ platforms will use engine blocks and core components that share common architectures. Cummins’ new design approach will be applied across the company’s B, L, and X-Series engine portfolios, which will be available for clean diesel, natural gas, and hydrogen.

Check out the full story here.

9. Deterring distracted driving to save dollars and lives

In a country as litigious as the United States, fleets seeking to avoid dreaded nuclear verdicts must do everything they can to prove to the courts that they've done their due diligence when it comes to safety. Fleets are working to ensure that the proper technology is in place to address all the various ways drivers can be distracted to prevent collisions, save dollars, and save lives.

“Everything is discoverable in civil litigation,” said Phil Moser, a former police officer and VP of customer development at Driving Dynamics, a provider of driver safety training. “The attorney’s going to jump on there, and they're going to say, ‘If you had forward-brake assist, or if you had had lane-departure assist, lane-keep assist, this crash wouldn't have happened.’”

Check out the full story here.

8. What do drivers really want? Ask them. 

What do professional truck drivers want? If you asked 100 drivers, you might get 100 different answers. But just asking drivers can give fleets an advantage in finding and keeping the good ones.

That was a common theme among fleet executives who spoke with FleetOwner during the opening day of NPTC 2022, the National Private Truck Council’s annual conference.

Check out the full story here.

7. Survey points to exodus of small operators—and fuel costs as the culprit

Newly released data from a survey shows that the post-lockdown surge of small carriers who entered the trucking industry in 2020-21 are finding recent “challenges”—the exploding cost of fuel chief among them—too much for them to stay in business on their own.

The new data shows that half—51%—of carriers that defines as small fleets and owner-operators are considering job changes in the next six to 12 months, even though 32% of respondents said they have plenty of business and are making 50% to 74% more money. The culprit is surging fuel prices, the survey also shows. The nationwide average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is hovering around $5.60—or about $2.36 more than just one year ago.

Check out the full story here.

6. Grid not prepared for electric truck 'avalanche'

A new study of the coming EV charging requirements made the rounds in the automotive media, with headlines typically pointing to the report’s most eye-popping (and easily understandable) analogy: The charging capacity required to supply a large passenger vehicle travel center/truck stop site will be “roughly equivalent to the electric load of a small town.”

Of course, that's just one truck stop. Clusters of truck-intensive operations could blow a fuse—a really big fuse, as we'll discuss below.

The white paper, The Electric Highways Study, is meant to be a blueprint for the strategic buildout of fast-charging sites along highway corridors to meet an upcoming surge in demand from the electrification of passenger vehicles and commercial trucks.

Check out the full story here.

5. Ukraine update: Understanding risks to U.S. trucking, transportation

As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues, the U.S. trucking and transportation industries are facing rising fuel prices and a potential influx of offshore cyberattacks, both of which could hurt the already fragile national supply chain and impact inflation.

There are a lot of articles and reports offering warnings of impending cyber and other attacks from Russia. “It’s too much,” Ben Barnes, chief information security officer and VP of IT services for transportation solutions provider McLeod Software, told FleetOwner. “It all can’t be true in my mind. But some of it probably is—we just don’t know what. So, we have to rest on some of the cybersecurity frameworks that we have in place.”

Check out the full story here.

4. With California law, trucking operations face uncertainty

When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal challenging a California law restricting the use of owner-operators, the question among industry experts wasn’t whether this would impede operations in the Golden State, but to what degree.

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) set forth a three-pronged legal test for independent contractors that, if failed, would require employers to hire these contractors as employees. The bill was originally intended to affect "gig" economy workers, such as rideshare and food-delivery drivers, and while there are many professions exempted from the law, truck driving is not among them.

Check out the full story here.

3. ‘Nuclear’ verdicts roil and rile trucking

There’s a lot of freight to haul, and some would have the public believe that unsafe players haul most of it. Of course, there are still operators today that knowingly hire suspect CDL holders to operate 80,000-lb. machines that are old, poorly maintained, and still run a lot of miles. But this—in no way—represents trucking as a whole. Yet this does sound like one of those side-of-the-road billboards, doesn't it? With one broad brush, they help paint a caricature of a complex industry that struggles with a very expensive byproduct of this perception: “nuclear” verdicts.

Injury and death occur in truck-involved accidents, despite current government goals of cutting this carnage down to zero—but that’s something safety directors, fleet executives, or anyone in orbit around the issue of nuclear verdicts hear regularly. Many internalize safety. Most make their missions to do better, to not only put their drivers in training but to build whole programs with the goals of constructing "safety cultures," preventing accidents, and staying well clear of plaintiffs' lawyers, judges, and juries.

Check out the full story here.

2. Intellistop’s pulsating rear lamp module caught in bureaucratic darkness

Almost any commercial vehicle traveling American highways can do so with brand-new technology aboard because the U.S. regulatory structure has holes in it. But when it comes to new equipment, fresh from the factory, a simple yet effective system that adjusts the way trailer brake lights work can become mired in a bureaucratic morass. One industry newcomer, the manufacturer of a device that pulsates rear stop lamps in an effort to reduce rear-end collisions, is learning this the hard way.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the last three years has granted four exemptions that allow brake-activated pulsating rear lamps on equipment already in operation with fleets. Tank truck carrier Groendyke Transport secured the first such waiver three years ago, and trash hauler Waste Management obtained the most recent one, just in January.

But a similar application for an exemption from FMCSA regulations, filed by Intellistop in December 2020 and published in the Federal Register last June, has yet to be approved—long after FMCSA was expected to decide; applications usually take 180 days from receipt to a decision from the agency. So, what’s the holdup with Intellistop’s application? Turns out, the delay has to do with federal agencies trying to figure out which of them has jurisdiction.

Check out the full story here.

1. Fleets begin to get a feel for the future of moving freight

Large fleets are starting to get a feel for the future of humanless freight transportation. As various autonomous trucking technology companies and truck makers team up, they are starting to show how the middle mile could transform supply chains and create more home time for the human drivers on their payrolls.

While some of these fleets are going with the OEMs that supply their equipment, others are opting to be part of pilot programs with the technology companies that are penetrating the trucking world with promises of robot trucks hauling freight 24/7 across the Sunbelt in the U.S. The autonomous freight moving right now through these pilots and other test programs has human safety drivers on board, who must adhere to hours-of-service rules and other regulations. But the AV companies are still saying that humans could be gone in the coming years. Until then, it’s about testing out lanes and logistics.

Check out the full story here.

About the Author

FleetOwner Staff

Our Editorial Team

Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

Josh Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

Jade Brasher, Senior Editor

Jeremy Wolfe, Editor

Jenna Hume, Digital Editor

Eric Van Egeren, Art Director

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