April 19, 2018 7:30 PM, EDT

Editorial: Cash in Hand, Behind the Wheel

If you pay them, will they come?

Motor carriers have been boosting driver pay at a steady clip lately. It seems that a week can’t pass without a company announcing that it’s boosting compensation, be it on a per-mile basis or through bonuses and incentives. Not to mention some tempting sign-on payments are being offered to lure new recruits.

If it’s true that money talks, right now it’s calling out to drivers to get behind the wheel. For those with some years of experience — and especially for those already comfortable with electronic logs — now is a great time to be a truck driver.

But this is about more than the simple laws of supply and demand. It’s about taking advantage of an economy that’s humming along — and which needs goods moved by a great industry.

If recent trailer order activity is any indication, carriers believe they’ll be needing new ones to haul those goods. Our p. 1 story on a 36% jump in March trailer orders year-over-year makes that clear. This is just the latest in a long line of similar stories we’ve written lately about surging demand for trailers and trucks.

It’s interesting that, regardless of the ongoing debate about the driver shortage, carriers aren’t holding back on adding equipment. They’re confident that the business will be there.

It’s also encouraging to read comments in this week’s p. 1 story about how both carriers and shippers are collaboratively navigating this environment now that full enforcement of the ELD mandate is in effect. It’s only been a few weeks since soft enforcement ended on March 31, and the extent to which the mandate will affect capacity is not yet known. But we are encouraged that the industry is working to address demand within the construct of this new reality. Especially since it’s unlikely that the pace of change will slow, technology to track hours-of-service is just one part of the equation. We also have an onslaught of technologies to do everything from help find loads for drivers to help fleets monitor the maintenance needs of their equipment and the behavior of their drivers. And more. It’s a lot to take in.

Which raises a point: it’s not just great drivers trucking needs, it’s great people throughout operations.

Trucking is transforming into a cutting-edge, more accountable industry — one sitting at the center of both economic and technological innovation, and one that makes for a great career destination. It will need a steady stream of bright people to carry it forward, be they behind the wheel — or behind a desk.

If you pay them, will they come?