Car Rams Into Border Crossing at Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge and Explodes

A vehicle exploded Wednesday, November 22 at the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge border crossing between the United States and Canada. This was confirmed by two American law enforcement officials with knowledge of the matter. The two people in the car died and a Border Patrol officer was injured.

The cause of the explosion, exact location and direction the car was traveling, were not immediately known. Video from an eyewitness at the scene shows an inspection booth at the bridge with smoke billowing out of the top and debris scattered about.

All four bridges between Canada and the United States in the Niagara area were closed, including the Rainbow Bridge, Peace Bridge, Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and Whirlpool Bridge, according to Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s public safety minister.

“This is a rapidly changing situation,” LeBlanc said at a press conference. “All measures are being taken to ensure that people will be safe.”

The vehicle was traveling at high speed. It careened about 10 feet into the air, according to one of the American law enforcement officers. No explosive devices were immediately found in the wreckage, the official said. The F.B.I.’s Buffalo field office said in a social media post on X (formerly Twitter) that the agency was coordinating with local, state and federal law enforcement. Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said the New York State Police were working with the F.B.I. to monitor all points of entry to the state.

Airports and railway facilities in the area have increased security. There are also additional explosive detective dogs and police patrols, and additional screening is being deployed at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, according to a spokesman with New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s office.

The FBI is investigating.

Workers Trapped in Road Tunnel in India

Forty-one workers were trapped in a collapsed road tunnel in northern India and have been there for 10 days so far. The number of trapped workers was revised up from 40 to 41, according to Anshu Manish, a director at the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, an agencies overseeing the rescue.

A new drilling machine arrived on site to replace a damaged one to help with the extrication. Reports say the exceptionally hard rock formation in the area coupled with the clearing of debris damaged the original machine and paused rescue efforts after several days.

Shown at right is an image of some of the trapped workers.

Phoenix Parking Enters Partnerships with Pyramid Network Services For Electric Vehicle Parking

With electric vehicles comprising a growing share of the car market, parking lot operators are faced with upgrading their operations with new technologies. Phoenix Parking Solutions continues its history of innovation by partnering with Pyramid Network Services to provide infrastructure solutions for platform-agnostic electric vehicle (EV) parking and charging. 

“This partnership with Pyramid Network Services will future-proof our clients as the demand for electric vehicle accommodations increases,” says Jeff Patterson, president of Phoenix Parking Solutions. “The company’s turnkey solutions will put our clients in an advantageous position to appeal to customers who need access to charging stations and offer an additional revenue stream for operators.” 

The addition of EV infrastructure is the latest in the Phoenix Parking Solutions service portfolio and works cohesively with its other state-of-the-art solutions like text-to-park, gateless parking garages, digital permits and license plate recognition technology. 

Pyramid Network Services will consult with Phoenix Parking Solutions’ clients to determine the capacity for EV parking. Once the scope of the project is defined, Pyramid Network Services then manages all the steps in the process from permitting to installation. The company also does the legwork to find available local, regional and national incentives to help mitigate the installation costs. After installation is complete, Pyramid Network Services remains available to train clients on operations and offer continued maintenance for the charging stations. According to Cy Weichert, founder and CEO of Pyramid, “Our national footprint, coupled with our expertise in simultaneously developing large quantities of sites across a broad landscape, enables us to support the need for EV chargers in a scalable, predictable, and timely manner for our customers. We help take the ‘guesswork’ out of what is a very new technology for most.”   

“We draw from our experience in construction, zoning and permitting and infrastructure development to support the evolving EV market, and we are pleased to partner with Phoenix Parking Solutions to help its clients lead the charge,” says Pat Bisceglia, director of EV construction at Pyramid Network Services.

LMI Secures $604 Million U.S. Border Patrol Task Order

LMI has been awarded a one-year base period and four, one-year options task order for a ceiling value of $604 million to support the U.S. Border Patrol’s Program Management Office Directorate (USBP PMOD), marking the largest contract award in LMI’s more than 60-year history. 

LMI will be responsible to support USBP PMOD as it modernizes and expands its technology capabilities across the Southern and Northern Borders to help ensure migrant safety, facilitate commerce, interdict human and drug trafficking, and protect all Americans from terrorism. Some of the services that LMI will provide USBP PMOD include program management, lifecycle logistics management, technical and engineering support, and environmental planning support. This task order expands LMI’s support to include all of USBP Headquarter Directorates: Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate, Law Enforcement Operations Directorate, Mission Support Directorate, and the Chief of Staff’s Office.

“This pivotal milestone in LMI history is a testament to the exceptional service we provide for our customers. We remain committed to continuously exceeding expectations in support of PMOD’s crucial mission and delivering innovative solutions at the pace of need,” said Doug Wagoner, LMI’s chief executive officer.

Charged with ensuring exceptional customer service satisfaction and delivery of LMI’s PMOD mission, Scott Recinos, LMI’s senior vice president, homeland security market, said, “We are honored to expand our work across USBP headquarters in pursuit of its goal of a responsive and efficient organization that supports agents in the field as they carry out their critical national security mission.” 

K2 Construction Consultants Wins $253 Million DHS Radiation Portal Monitor Deployment, Construction and Design Contract

K2 Construction Consultants has been awarded a five-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling value of approximately $253 million by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) to deploy technology designed to detect and prevent nuclear and radiological material or devices from entering the United States. K2 partnered with Parsons Corporation and Culmen International to win the Radiation Portal Monitor Program (RPMP) Deployment contract.

The K2 team will deploy radiation portal monitors (RPM) across the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders and at international airports, seaports, and global postal facilities, in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“We are excited to expand our support of DHS to the CWMD mission from our many Transportation Security Administration (TSA) programs installing security screening systems and technology,” said Paul Krogh, chief executive officer of K2 Construction Consultants, Inc. “The team brings extraordinary capabilities and wide-ranging expertise for the development of threat reduction systems, integration of security screening technologies, as well as program and logistics management, procurement, and construction.”

“The critical importance of preventing nuclear and radiological material from entering the United States cannot be overstated,” said Jon Moretta, president, Engineered Systems for Parsons. “Working closely with K2, Culmen and DHS, we look forward to deploying technologies to help ensure the continued protection of American citizens and success of the RPMP mission.”

The K2 team will perform site surveys and designs, equipment installation, configuration management, and commissioning.

“Culmen’s capabilities and experience provides the Government with unique resources and expertise needed to fulfil the CWMD RPMP mission,” said Dan Berkon, CEO of Culmen International. “Culmen is proud to be part of the K2 team enhancing US and international security by implementing radiation portal monitoring solutions at critical sites.”

“We have assembled the strongest team in the industry to execute this important mission for CWMD,” said Paul Krogh. “K2, Parsons and Culmen are ideally positioned because of our exceptional track records with DHS, TSA and CBP.”

Suicide Bomber Targets Turkish Capital

A suicide bomber denoted a bomb after arriving near the entrance of the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Ankara Sunday, October 1. A second person was killed later in a shootout with police, according to the Ali Yerlikaya, interior minister.

The bombing happened just hours prior to the Turkish Parliament’s opening after summer recess. Two police officers were injured in the attack. The attackers arrived at the scene in a light commercial vehicle, according to Yerlikaya. “Our heroic police officers, throught their intuition, resisted the terrorists as soon as they got out of the vehicle,” Yerlikaya said in a press conference.

Truck Crash Investigation Continues

An investigation into the crash of a truck that killed five people and injured seven others, is ongoing. The crash occurred Saturday, September 30. The incident caused a toxic chemical leak as the tanker truck was carrying anhydrous ammonia. After the wreck, the tank was drained and moved to a more secure location. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The tanker truck spilled its load on a highway east of Teutopolis, Illinois, Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes said in a statement Sunday evening. “Preliminary investigation indicates five individuals died from exposure to anhydrous ammonia at the crash site,” according to Rhodes’ statement.

Anhydrous ammonia is a clear, colorless gas that is toxic. Effects of inhalation range from nausea to respiratory tract irritation, depending on the length of exposure, according to the Center for Disease Control. About 500 residents living within roughly 2 square miles of the crash site were initially evacuated, authorities said. They were allowed to return to their homes on Saturday

Sopra Steria and TfL Develop Traffic Management System to Keep London Moving

Sopra Steria and TfL Develop Traffic Management System to Keep London Moving

Sopra Steria has worked in partnership with Transport for London (TfL) to develop new software to upgrade TfL’s incident management system.

TfL is responsible for managing 580km of London’s busiest roads, including all of the capital’s 6,400 traffic signal junctions. The new system means incidents across its vast network can be quickly identified and resolved to keep traffic moving safely, providing a single, unified view of London’s roads for the first time.

The software generates rapid alerts for TfL by analyzing large volumes of data on factors like road accidents, traffic congestion and roadworks. This ensures that vital information on incidents is quickly delivered to organizations that rely on up-to-date and accurate traffic reports, such as local authorities and emergency services across the capital.

This helps enable TfL to detect and respond to incidents efficiently, helping to improve road safety and minimize pollution and congestion across the city. “The transformative system produced from our work with Sopra Steria will enable TfL to manage our surface transport network much more effectively and gives us a vital tool to keep London moving,” Irfan Shaffi, operational control manager at TfL, said.

The Truck Driver Shortage: Broad Agreement on Need for Solutions

The Truck Driver Shortage: Broad Agreement on Need for Solutions

Ahe global trucking industry is facing a serious driver shortage that shows no signs of easing. So what is causing the crisis? And what can be done to remedy it?

To find out, TSI magazine spoke to experts on both sides of the issue.

One of them is Stephen Cotton. He is general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). It is a global union federation representing 18.5 million workers throughout the transport industry.

The second expert is Umberto de Pretto. He is secretary general of the International Road Transport Union (IRU). It represents more than 3.5 million transportation companies — bus, coach, truck and taxi — in over 100 countries.

Here’s the interesting part: Although the tone and focus of these two experts’ views on the global drivers’ shortage are understandably different, there is a general consensus between them on many aspects of this issue. Here’s what they had to tell us, in an exclusive TSI roundtable discussion:

Umberto de Pretto,Secretary General, IRU
Umberto de Pretto,
Secretary General, IRU

TSI: Just how serious is the shortage of transport truck drivers?

Umberto de Pretto: Chronic commercial truck driver shortages are getting worse, threatening the stability and continuity of logistics and supply chains.

Millions of positions are unfilled. But of greater concern is the fact that the trucking industry has an aging driver population. In most regions, drivers under 25 are a small minority, just above 5% of the total truck driver population.

In the U.S. and Europe, older drivers make up around a third of drivers. Many are set to retire in the next five to ten years. With the rate of replacement being much lower, the shortage of drivers could worsen significantly in the coming years. Action is needed right now to prevent the current crisis from worsening and triggering an economic and social catastrophe.

Road transport operators are doing more than their share to improve the driver profession. Governments and authorities now need to step up, especially to improve parking infrastructure, training access, and encourage more women and young people to get behind the wheel.

Stephen Cotton: The so-called truck driver shortage is rapidly becoming a global problem, one that is likely to continue to deteriorate unless assertive measures are taken. The key here is that we are facing not so much a shortage of actual drivers, but poor pay and harsh conditions making it impossible to retain a skilled and diverse workforce.

In 2022, the IRU’s annual Global Driver Shortage Report reported 2.6 million truck driver jobs unfilled the previous year. Studies this year show that 80,000 drivers are needed to fill jobs in the United States, 25,000 in Canada and 76,000 in the U.K., with these numbers expected to grow. Some say as much as 35% of cargo may go undelivered in Japan by 2030 due to shortages.

The problem is more severe in developed countries than in some developing countries where there are lower barriers to entry and often a proliferation of self-employed and informal drivers. But the issues at the heart of driver shortages — poor pay, long hours, and unsafe conditions — exist everywhere and will likely lead to more shortages even in places that are not currently experiencing them, until governments and companies get serious about lifting standards across the industry.

TSI: When did this start to become a problem? What role did COVID play?

Stephen Cotton: The Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath put truck driver shortages in the spotlight. During the early part of the pandemic shutdowns, dropping freight volumes and closed borders led some trucking companies to lay off workers, while other workers left their jobs due to the uncertainty caused by the shutdowns and unsafe conditions. This was compounded by supply chain disruptions together with increased consumer demand, which made the impact of shortages all the more acute.

The fact is, however, that the pandemic shed a light on and exacerbated what is in fact a decades-old trend in many countries. It can be traced to deregulation of the road transport industry in the 1980s and 1990s, which has resulted in business models based on excessive subcontracting and cost competition, increased precarity and the deterioration of pay and conditions, and the decline of unionization throughout the industry, particularly in western countries.

Umberto de Pretto: The shortage of drivers is a chronic issue. We’ve been reporting and analyzing driver shortages since 2019, producing the only survey and report of its kind.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which brought some well-deserved attention to this critical issue, led to a dip in driver shortages, as transport operations were significantly impacted. But then there was a jump again from 2020 to 2021 as operations resumed. In Europe, driver shortages increased by 42% from 2020 to 2021.

Covid-19 also revealed the inability of global intergovernmental institutions to implement harmonized procedures, and national governments to eagerly implement their own uncoordinated measures, particularly at borders.

Instead of letting our drivers cross borders without having to get out of their trucks, they made them bunch together and follow futile, erratic national procedures that actually put them in greater danger.

Of many incidents around the world, one notably was the fiasco which left many thousands of our drivers stranded at the U.K.-French channel crossings just before Christmas 2020, that made it difficult to retain our dedicated drivers. Up to 10,000 trucks were stuck at that one border alone, moving slowly through a gridlocked Dover towards France. Alarmingly, this did not account for thousands of other trucks stuck elsewhere in the U.K., waiting for the green light to approach Dover.

Even the United Nations Secretary-General recognized that we have global UN instruments at our disposal, such as e-CMR and eTIR, that would have permitted our drivers to stay safely in their trucks while border authorities processed everything electronically.

Hopefully governments won’t repeat the same mistakes in future public health emergencies. International institutions appear to have learned this lesson.

Following our lobbying efforts, a Joint Action Group was established — at a meeting with the Director-General of the International Labour Organization, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, and the heads of IRU and other international transport organizations, including the International Transport Workers’ Federation — to review the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on transport workers and networks in December 2021.

In response, the Joint Action Group developed a set of 23 recommendations to provide more effective means of action to the ongoing issues affecting the transport sector during the Covid-19 pandemic and in similar public health emergencies of international concern.

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, ITF
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, ITF

TSI: What factors are causing the shortage?

Umberto de Pretto: Several factors are contributing to the shortage of drivers. Some of the main causes include a lack of trained and qualified professional drivers, insufficient safe and secure parking areas, challenging working conditions (such as having to wait not hours, but sometimes days and weeks to cross a border), the cost of becoming a professional driver, and difficulties attracting women and young people to the profession.

Let’s take the lack of safe and secure parking for example. In the entire European Union, only about 7,000, less than 3%, of existing parking places in the EU, are in areas certified to be safe and secure, according to a 2019 study. This is simply unacceptable.

While the number of safe and secure parking areas has slightly increased since then, we continue to urge policymakers to provide additional support to improve conditions in the sector by advocating for EU-funding to build new, and upgrade existing, safe and secure parking areas.

In September 2021, the European Commission launched a call for proposals to access EUR 750 million in Connecting Europe Facility funding to improve the network of safe and secure truck parking areas across the European Union.

IRU played an important role in obtaining this funding by extensively lobbying for more measures to improve conditions in the commercial road transport sector.

But at least the EU has some secure parking areas. In many parts of the world, this is an alien concept. Drivers are expected to stop and park where they can, with security not always being an option.

How can we attract young people and women to our profession, particularly as an international driver, when days or weeks of waiting time awaits them at borders, and there is no guarantee that they can stop and rest in complete security? Governments need to remedy these obvious impediments for us to be able to attract young people and women.

Governments also need to understand that drivers are the heart of the trucking industry, which is the backbone of any economy. We can’t expect to continue attracting new people to this critical profession when the unfit conditions, created by governments, will further exacerbate the crisis. Drivers need to be treated as the real-life heroes that they are.

Stephen Cotton: In the ITF we don’t talk about a shortage of drivers, we talk about a shortage of decent work and good jobs.

Some experts talk about “a recruitment and retention problem”. In recent decades, deregulation and fragmentation have been coupled with the concentration of power in the hands of multinational shippers or customer companies who profit through subcontracting and low-cost tendering. This creates incredible competitive pressures and has resulted in the deterioration in pay and conditions, and road safety.

Truck drivers work for extremely long hours, are often fatigued, and have great difficulty maintaining stable family lives. A lot of the time they work, such as time waiting to pick up or drop off loads or doing maintenance, goes unpaid. A lack of adequate rest areas, poor infrastructure and exposure to violence and harassment — particularly in developing economies — increases the health and safety risks and makes it impossible for drivers to drive safely or maintain a sense of dignity at work.

As a result, the industry has a terrible time attracting young people and women and retaining trained drivers. We see high turnover rates and an aging workforce around the world.

Across Europe and in many parts of the world where cross-border truck driving takes place,

companies have turned to the exploitation of migrant workers from other countries to keep costs down. The conditions these drivers work under — including unfair deductions to their pay, delayed payments, non-transparent contracts and living out of the cabs of their vehicles for months on end — amount to a human rights crisis with cases of modern slavery and human trafficking staining the industry.

TSI: What impact is the driver shortage having on trucking companies and the supply chain?

Umberto de Pretto: Driver shortages are limiting trucking companies, preventing them from meeting demand for their services, and increasing uncertainty in the supply chain. Knock-on effects ripple quickly through supply chains, affecting consumers and businesses. This is exposing already stressed economies and communities to higher risk of inflation, social mobility issues and supply chain meltdown.

Stephen Cotton: This “shortage of good jobs” or “recruitment and retention problems” is bad for everyone — shippers, trucking companies and consumers who need the goods transported by road. It leads to a lack of business predictability and delays. It has contributed to supply chain bottlenecks resulting in a vicious cycle where existing truck drivers are working for even longer hours under even greater pressure. What is more, the conditions which many truck drivers work under constitute a human rights and safety risk for the businesses they work for and the companies whose goods they carry.

TSI: What could be done to alleviate this shortage?

Umberto de Pretto: Each region and country requires tailored solutions, but, in many cases, key measures include enhancing access to safe and secure parking areas and resting facilities, improving the treatment of drivers at delivery sites, using existing global instruments to expedite border crossings, reducing the “school-to-wheel” gap, and helping drivers spend more time at home through new operating models, such as “trailer drop and swap” services.

Two initiatives that we are leading right now include our charter on the treatment of drivers and a new three-point plan we launched earlier this year together with unions.

The primary objective of the driver charter is to improve the treatment of drivers at loading and unloading sites and thereby improve working conditions, increase operational efficiency, and ultimately, contribute to making the driving profession more attractive. The charter is a universal decalogue for shippers to commit to a series of basic actions to develop trust between drivers and logistics actors.

In June, together with the International Transport Workers’ Federation, we launched a new plan to help fix driver shortages. The plan outlines action for the United Nations, national governments and the industry and aims to ease driver shortages and transport labor market imbalances, ensure decent working conditions and standards for drivers working outside of their home country, and simplify and enforce rules for workers and employers.

Stephen Cotton: We at the ITF have been very clear about the solution to this problem.

Trucking jobs must be good, safe jobs, where workers’ human rights and dignity are protected, where they can make a decent living and drive safely while being confident that they will have adequate time to spend with family and loved ones. To make this possible, governments, shippers and transport companies must all take responsibility and work with trade unions to set and enforce fair and safe labor standards throughout road transport supply chains.

The ITF has proposed two ways in which this can be done.

First, we have developed a model for worker-led monitoring and enforcement of labor standards in road transport supply chains in Europe called Road Transport Due Diligence. In this model, multinational companies that contract for road transport services voluntarily cooperated with a union-established independent monitoring body to monitor compliance with a set of agreed standards and fix breaches.

Secondly, the ITF and its affiliated unions, together with responsible industry stakeholders, have been calling on governments to implement what we call Safe Rates legislation. These laws establish legally binding systems whereby unions and other industry stakeholders — including the shipping companies at the top of road transport supply chains — negotiate and set fair and safe standards for pay and conditions. Importantly, Safe Rates systems, along with other forms of supply chain regulation like chain of responsibility and mandatory due diligence laws, put obligations on the biggest companies who ship their goods — not just trucking companies — to ensure that pay and conditions for drivers are fair and mean that drivers will want to continue to come to work.

On 22 September, ITF released a call to employers, governments and shippers globally to cooperate with us in these ways to ensure that road transport supply chains are fair, safe, and sustainable.

TSI: What is being done? Is it enough?

Umberto de Pretto: Various solutions are being pursued in different regions, including the solutions listed above. But much more needs to be done.

Some measures that must be pursued in most regions include setting the minimum driving age at 18, with training from 17, subsidizing license and training costs for new drivers, and building more safe and secure parking areas.

I’ll just highlight one example here: the unacceptably high costs involved in becoming a truck driver. In France, for example, a truck license costs EUR 5,300, more than three times the average minimum monthly salary.

Financial support from governments and companies to cover license costs is desperately needed.

Let me repeat, our drivers are real-life heroes. They need to be treated as such by everyone.

That’s why this year’s IRU Grand Prix d’Honneur was awarded to all professional bus, coach, taxi and truck drivers in the world. It recognizes their collective bravery, courage and dedication in continuing to serve through the pandemic, conflicts and natural disaster rescue and relief operations, despite risks to their own lives.

Stephen Cotton: Governments, industry associations and companies globally have begun various initiatives or put forth proposals to address the driver shortage issue.

Some of these — the ones that will start to improve pay and conditions and re-regulate the industry — are positive. For example, the Biden Administration’s Trucking Action Plan, a bill introduced last year to remove the exemption for overtime pay for truck drivers, are important first steps in the U.S.

In Australia, the federal government has introduced transport reform legislation, which would establish a body to set and enforce fair and safe standards covering all supply chain actors in road transport. This is also very promising.

However, a lot of initiatives taken are focused on information-sharing and industry promotion. This sort of project will not have an impact without fundamental changes to the structure of the industry and the conditions under which truck drivers work.

There are also some initiatives that go beyond being ineffective and are dangerous. The European Commission is pursuing a proposal to revise the directive on driving licenses, which would allow member states to reduce the minimum age to be licensed as a truck driver to 17. Putting young drivers behind the wheel will not address the root causes of the shortage while exacerbating safety risks.

Some industry associations have been calling for, and some governments pursuing, a relaxation of immigration rules to facilitate the entry of more migrant workers into the industry to fill vacancies. This is a complicated issue that must be treated with care.

The ITF supports equal standards for all drivers and equal union protections regardless of their nationality. Employers’ main interest in using migrant workers is to keep labor costs down, which they can do because regulation, monitoring and enforcement are often weak. Addressing root causes related to industry structure and poor labor standards should be the main focus of long-term solutions.

TSI Will the current driver shortage help spur the acceptance of driverless autonomous trucks? Do they exist yet?

Umberto de Pretto: We are still a long way from having widespread adoption of autonomous trucks. As the representative of the industry and transport companies, we embrace the potential of autonomous vehicles, but it’s a long-term journey.

Autonomous vehicles offer great potential for not only the driver shortage issue, but also other challenges such as decarbonization, efficiency and traffic congestion.

Regardless of the pace of automation, the road transport sector should continue to offer good career opportunities. Road transport automation will require a just transition. We need to ensure that the sector will continue to provide rich career opportunities, both driver and non-driver jobs, and assist people in transitioning from driver to non-driver jobs.

There are already some interesting innovative projects out there, such as the European Union’s All Weather Autonomous Real logistics operations and Demonstrations (AWARD) project, trying to speed up the transition.

The AWARD project aims to accelerate the deployment of connected and automated freight transport solutions across Europe. Trial operations are being conducted in adverse weather conditions, in both closed areas and mixed traffic, to assess the safety and efficiency of automated commercial freight operations.

We have taken a lead role in this project to identify market opportunities, define new business models, and analyze regulatory frameworks. These three areas will be essential for the deployment of driverless heavy-duty vehicles.

Stephen Cotton: There is no doubt that the driver shortage is spurring efforts to develop driverless trucks.

There are many technologies that can be deployed, from driver assistive technologies to platooning that may also be part of the mix. However, there are big issues surrounding adequate testing, regulatory change, international standards, social acceptance and particularly the cybersecurity of driverless systems.

We know there are systems being tested across the world in trucking and with buses and cars too. It may be that within a few years one or some of these will become commercially viable and pass the regulatory and other barriers. However, trucking is a complex system, and it will not be possible to make the sector 100% autonomous in the short term.

Given this reality, it isn’t clear how autonomous trucks would fit into the existing system. How would manual and non-manual fleets interact? What’s the ideal way to integrate AVs in a mixed fleet? How would companies recruit drivers if the future of the profession seems in doubt?

Operators and some governments are looking at AV technology as a solution to addressing systemic problems and root causes, but is this viable? We can’t say how long it will take to transform factory production to AV technology or to train the workers needed to operate and maintain AVs. How many new factories will be needed to churn out enough trucks to make a real difference? How would small or medium operators buy more expensive AV trucks? It will likely take years to figure this all out.

A faster and more secure way to resolve the driver shortage is to take the steps to change the structure of the industry and make it a more attractive sector to work in.

TSI What will this situation look like in five years’ time, if nothing is done?

Stephen Cotton: Without systematic solutions we are likely to see a dwindling road transport workforce and driver shortages in more and more countries in the next 5 to 10 years. In countries that already have severe shortages we will see more and more supply chain problems and delays in freight deliveries. From a labor perspective, our economies will lose out on the opportunity to create good jobs and develop a workforce that is well trained, diverse, and sustainable.

Umberto de Pretto: With the rate of replacement being much lower, the shortage of truck drivers could worsen significantly in the coming years if no action is taken right now, exposing economies and communities to higher risks of supply chain interruptions and freight rate increases.
We know what needs to be done. There’s a good understanding of the challenges and possible solutions. It’s now time for us to act and get more young drivers and women behind the wheel.

Veridas Voice Biometrics Now Available on Genesys AppFoundry

A Spanish technology company specializing in digital identity and biometrics, announced its Voice Biometrics Solution is now available on the Genesys AppFoundry, a marketplace of solutions offering a curated selection of applications and integrations that elevate customer and employee experiences.

With Veridas Voice Biometrics, Genesys says customers can easily identify their users in as little as three seconds.

As a 100% proprietary solution, Veridas Voice Biometric revolutionizes call center authentication with real-time voice recognition. Swift and secure, and powered by top-class NIST-rated algorithms, Veridas replaces lengthy knowledge-based verification methods with passive identity verification, utilizing a text and language-independent solution that provides a seamless customer experience.

“Veridas brings a paradigm shift to the contact center industry,” says Ignacio del Castillo, head of strategic partnerships, Veridas. “Our clients benefit from reducing Average Handling Time (AHT) by 60-90 seconds while increasing client satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS). In today’s digital landscape, ensuring the security of customer interactions is paramount. From just a simple, 3-second conversation, Veridas can accurately address customers by name, guaranteeing their true identity and mitigating the risk of fraudulent activities. With Veridas’ breakthrough capabilities, businesses can confidently embrace a new era of contact center operations, combining efficiency, customer satisfaction, and enhanced security.”

Veridas developed an integration of its Voice Biometrics solution in Genesys Cloud CX to provide customers with a secure and streamlined authentication experience while reducing fraud and improving operational efficiency in contact centers, both in IVR and live-agent interactions. In 2021, BBVA, a global financial giant, successfully integrated Veridas voice biometrics through Genesys to authenticate customers. According to Miguel Villaumbrales, Head of Digital Identity at BBVA, “People readily embrace biometrics when it addresses their needs – something Veridas’ technology has accomplished.”

Veridas application is now available with Genesys Cloud CX, an all-in-one composable solution that helps organizations offer frictionless and connected customer and employee experiences. As a modern, API-first experience orchestration platform, Genesys Cloud CX enables organizations to coordinate every interaction and touchpoint through a full suite of omnichannel options, built-in employee experience, turnkey AI and end-to-end journey optimization.