Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

What to look forward to in trucking and transportation in 2021

Rula Ifteiha Photo
Rula Ifteiha
Content Specialist

We are days away from saying goodbye to 2020 and welcoming a new year.

From a global pandemic to natural disasters, 2020 has been nothing if not tumultuous. Many around the world are looking toward the new year with mixed feelings of caution, anticipation, excitement, and apprehension. Our industry is no different. Here’s everything we’re excited about in the trucking and transportation world in 2021:

A possible return to normal (or semi-normal)

In early December, a panel of independent experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted that health care workers most at risk of contracting COVID-19, along with nursing home and long-term care facility residents, should be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. Just before the Christmas holiday, the CDC advised the next batch of vaccines should be designated for frontline essential workers, such as truckers, and older adults (ages 75 and up).

With vaccinations underway, BioNTech, Pfizer, and Oxford vaccine specialists project life could begin returning to normal in the second half of 2021. The possibility of returning to a semblance of normalcy in our industry and beyond has, up until recently, been an aspirational notion. Fortunately, 2021 looks to be leading us toward that.

In line with that anticipation, FTR Transportation Intelligence, a leading transportation research body, anticipates a substantial market for freight industry profitability in the next year. Along with forecasting higher truckload contract and spot rates, their researchers expect a post-COVID sales surge as retailers begin restocking depleted inventory and the manufacturing industry begins rebounding.

A push for sustainability

Environmental activists have been pushing for global sustainability for many years. However, emphasis around it has only recently drastically increased. One of the main reasons behind this is the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was pushed out in late 2016. The landmark agreement prioritizes limiting global warming and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Freight accounts for 7% of total global CO2 emissions, according to a report published by the International Transport Forum. Industry leaders are now paving the way for sustainable solutions and ideas, which we will likely see more of in 2021. Alternative fuel vehicles, or vehicles that rely on electric, hydrogen-electric, and renewable natural gas, are on the rise. Many manufacturers are also looking to begin using electric trucks in 2021.

If you’re an industry leader looking to make an eco-friendly difference in 2021 and beyond, you don’t have to wait for electric trucks to do so. You can use load board technology to easily share and receive loads with other carriers, thereby reducing unwasted truck space. You can also limit vehicle downtime with enhanced asset tracking, giving you microscopic visibility into vehicle health and driving behaviors that waste unnecessary fuel. Solutions like these are a win for your business and a win for the environment.   

The Canadian ELD Mandate

Last but not least, the Canadian Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate has been a hot topic in 2019 and 2020. It will undoubtedly be the hottest topic throughout 2021 for many carriers operating in Canada. The mandate, a Final Rule released by Transport Canada that requires federally-regulated carriers to equip their vehicles with compliant, third-party certified ELDS, goes into effect on June 12, 2021.

With the third-party certification requirement, carriers in Canada will have to certify their ELDs by an accredited third party. As of December 11, there is only one accredited certifying body and zero certified ELDs. In 2021, carriers will understandably be on the lookout for certified ELDs. To combat unnecessary last-minute hassles, fleet managers can keep in touch with their ELD providers. If you’re a carrier with a certified ELD in the U.S., it may just be a matter of undergoing a software update once your provider receives certification. If so, you can begin training and communicating with drivers ahead of time.

We are looking forward to — and hoping for — a safe and prosperous 2021. Read our throwback blog post for our 2020 connectivity predictions. Happy New Year!