IRU’s Secretary General unpacked pressing developments, particularly driver shortages and decarbonisation, facing the trucking industry in the United States and beyond at ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition.
Umberto de Pretto outlined solutions to driver shortages and decarbonisation at IRU member the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA’s) 2023 Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE) in Austin, Texas.
In conversation with ATA President and CEO Chris Spear, Umberto de Pretto said, “We need to strike the right balance between cutting CO₂ emissions and continuing to effectively meet demand for our services. And we certainly need to consider regional and national specificities, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. More importantly, carriers should have the freedom to choose what’s best for their operations.”
“We must also focus on actions we can take right now, such as driver training and eco-trucks. Two eco-trucks can transport the cargo of three standard trucks. Eco-driving training can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15%,” highlighted Umberto de Pretto.
“Don’t get me wrong, these solutions are not easy to implement, but they are feasible measures that we can take right now to reduce CO₂ emissions,” he added.
Umberto de Pretto also touched on the importance of public-private partnerships. “Governments must support us and provide the investment and incentives needed for trucking companies in each region to decarbonise”.
Chris Spear and Umberto de Pretto then pivoted to chronic driver shortages. “Most regions are facing a growing shortage of truck drivers, which is posing significant risks to the supply chains that we all rely on. What is even more concerning is the low rate of young people entering the profession. The trucking industry has an ageing driver population that we must structurally address. The industry desperately needs more young people,” said Umberto de Pretto.
Umberto de Pretto also focused on a historical challenge facing truck carriers and drivers across the globe: long border queues.
“How can we attract and retain drivers, including women, given that drivers are often stranded at borders for days, sometimes weeks? How can we strive to reduce our CO₂ emissions while our trucks waste fuel inching ahead, ever so slowly, idling in seemingly never-ending queues? What makes it worse is that we have solutions, such as the TIR system. Countries in Asia and the Middle East are embracing TIR. But, unfortunately, the political will is not there in every country and region.”
Umberto de Pretto concluded his presentation by presenting Chris Spear with a special plaque marking IRU’s 75th anniversary and commemorating ATA and IRU’s long-standing partnership dating back to the 1960s.