There are lots of things that could go awry over Thanksgiving. You could miss your flight home, leaving you stranded at the airport. You could go heavy on the stuffing and mashed potatoes, putting on that dreaded extra weight you claim you’ll lose in the New Year. You could overcook your Turkey, ruining your hot streak as the go-to chef in the family. Or your TV could cut out during the big football game, drawing the ire of your in-laws.
Yet, in a recent DHL survey of e-commerce businesses, these were just some of the worst case scenarios business owners would rather confront than face shipping delays during the upcoming Cyber Monday holiday. It’s no surprise, as these same businesses expect an increase of 21% in their online sales on that day alone.
For many of our nation’s small businesses, this season is make or break time for them, and they’re counting on the shipping industry to come through. However, those in the industry are coming to terms with the difficult truth that keeping up with demand is getting harder with each passing year. So, you might be wondering, what is the problem? I think it starts with our nation’s truckers.
For one, the trucking industry is facing a trucker shortage, something that’s been going on for the better part of a decade. This has been exacerbated at the moment, since a booming economy and a good job market makes it more difficult for industries like trucking to attract talent. After all, who among us is chomping at the bit to take on the often-thankless job of a trucker, somebody who works long hours and spends extended periods of time away from family and friends.
Beyond this, the industry is dealing with the logistics of managing an exponential increase in e-commerce shopping that, even under the best of circumstances, would be difficult to manage. The shipping industry has been sounding the drum on the growth of e-commerce for some time now, and Cyber Monday, which is shaping up to be the biggest day of online shopping in history, proves their point and then some.
It’s time that our lawmakers get real about addressing these concerns. For those that are monitoring the year-end appropriations fight in Congress, it’s no secret that government dollars are hard-fought for and contentious. The good news is, there is a solution to the trucking industry’s woes that wouldn’t require a dime of taxpayer dollars.
Congress is currently considering the prospects of federally legalizing a two-trailer rig design that would extend trailer size by 18%, giving truckers the ability to carry more goods on average. These trailers, referred to as Twin 33s, can deliver more freight in fewer trips, alleviating the delivery burden on truckers while the industry explores new ways to attract drivers. At the same time, it would bridge the service gap for American consumers who want their e-commerce packages delivered on-time.
What’s standing in the way of this proposal? An outdated federal restriction preventing trailers of more than 28 feet from being run nationwide. Congress can change this if they include a Twin 33s rider in the year-end transportation appropriations bill, and they should. Even if we handle the short-term demands of Cyber Monday, we’ll be staring down a whole month of Christmas shopping, which is increasingly moving online as well. If you ask me, truckers deserve to be cut a break and Congress is in the right position to do so with Twin 33s.
Tyler Hurst; firstname.lastname@example.org