At the end of the year, we tend to publish a lot of lists about the top stories from the past 12 months. They're typically based on web statistics telling us how many people read, listened, or watched. But every year, there also are stories that for whatever reason don’t get as much attention as they should.
Maybe they happened to be published on a day when there was a lot of hot news to compete with, or too close to a holiday or major event, or we didn’t do a great job writing a headline that grabbed your attention.
So I asked our editorial team what stories they covered this year that didn’t make those top lists that they felt should have. Following are two picks from each editor we feel are worth a second look. We’ll start off with yours truly.
Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief
My interview with John Vaccaro was one of the most compelling of the year. Here’s a trucking company that narrowly avoided a nuclear verdict, a case where a plaintiff’s attorney was going after every business his family had. We talked for an hour, and his passion for his company, for his drivers, for safety, were striking. “I remember lying down that night on the floor in the basement of my home, [thinking], ‘What could I have done to prevent this?’” Take some time to read about Vaccaro’s three-year nightmare and what he learned from it.
My second pick is one of my editorials, this one from the May issue. ESG stands for environmental, social, and corporate governance. If you haven’t gotten a request for proposal from a shipper yet asking for information on your company’s policies on ESG or related topics such as sustainability, it’s likely only a matter of time. Click and see why I think this is an important topic for trucking companies of all sizes.
Vesna Brajkovic, Managing Editor
With the driver shortage on everyone’s minds, two pieces by Managing Editor Vesna Brajkovic should be on the reading list of anyone interested in driver recruiting and retention:
Ask any over-the road driver what they hate about the job, and wasted time and poor treatment at shippers and receivers is bound to come up. For this October HDT cover story, Vesna talked to fleets with good retention rates and came up with four ways fleet managers can get shippers on their side when it comes to keeping drivers happy.
HDT Talks Trucking podcast: Inside a High School Truck Driver Training Program
“I struggled in high school… it wasn’t until I got to truck driving school that I realized I’m very successful,” says Dave Dein. So he worked to create a non-traditional high school truck driver training program. Listen as Vesna talks to Dave about how trucking “gave him life” and what he’s doing to bring more young people into the industry. There are actually two versions of this, so take your pick; the audio podcast linked above is a bit different from, and a bit longer than, the video version.
Jim Park, Equipment Editor
HDT Talks Trucking podcast: Are You Worried About Cybersecurity? You Should Be.
The world is electronic now, which means there are doorways into our lives and our business that we'd prefer stayed closed. Cyber-attacks aren’t limited to big business. Small fleets may not even see themselves as targets, much less know how to protect themselves. The FBI said last spring that the trucking industry had become a significant and growing target for hackers. So give a listen to this January 2021 episode of HDT Talks Trucking, where Jim Park talks to Kevin Linardic, chief technology officer at Carrier Logistics, about the scope of the threat and ways even small fleets can work to build a defense.
With freight capacity at a premium, an article on the latest in decking systems that allow you to use the space in your trailer most efficiently should be a natural. But it didn’t really light anyone’s fire. So here’s another look at this May 2021 magazine feature.
Jack Roberts, Senior Contributing Editor
Maybe it’s the word “telematics,” which is an incredibly broad term, that kept this September HDT feature from getting more attention, along with its related story, “How Telematics are Changing the Cold Chain.” But trailer telematics have the potential to transform maintenance and freight management. Jack Roberts explores how connected “smart trailers,” equipped with sensors on everything from tire pressure to cargo, can offer information as simple as “Where’s my trailer?” or as complex as a real-time report on the current state of the equipment.
The Alternative Clean Transportation Expo returned this year after a COVID-19 hiatus, and an amazing amount had changed in the past couple of years. Jack Roberts was there and shared this story about the opening session of the show. Peter Voorhoeve, president and CEO of Volvo Trucks North America cited a new “sense of urgency,” saying Volvo is committing to having a 100% zero-emissions product line of commercial vehicles by 2040. If you missed it and you’re interested in learning more about the push to zero emissions, give it a read.
David Cullen, Business/Washington Contributing Editor
The digitization of freight is a syllable-heavy phrase that gets tossed about in trucking and logistics these days. But what does it really mean? And how does the process it defines affect the movement of freight — and your fleet? David Cullen talked to several fleets for this July cover story to learn how they are leveraging digital technology to better master the flow of freight in ways that make everyone happier, from shippers to drivers.
For our September issue, we took a deep dive into the zero-emissions puzzle. Part of that was this feature diving into what it takes for a fleet to add battery-electric commercial vehicles to its operations. Read why a conversion plan for your fleet will need to be forward-thinking and encompass everything from the vehicle to its charging plan and dedicated charging infrastructure to the financing or leasing of some or all of these elements.