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With today’s smartphones, information is real-time and instant: two key triggers that meet the trucking industry’s demand to keep freight and trucks on the move. Online load boards and specialized apps for iPhones, Androids, and tablets help independent owner operators and fleet owners quickly locate shipments by location and equipment type. Apps also help truckers legally bypass inspection stations, get weather forecasts, submit invoices and load documents to brokers and factoring companies, and much more.

The American Trucking Associations reports that some 90% of the trucking industry is composed of individual truckers and small fleets. Freight matching apps help these small businesses immeasurably and save money on brokers’ commissions. Some smartphone apps specialize in local loads, but many list loads across the country. Testimonials of app users’ significant business growth and expansion attest to the power of instant information.

Some local freight-matching apps, such as Cargomatic, take a similar approach to Uber’s passenger transportation on demand. The fastest-responding, closest truck gets the job when the shipper’s need is immediate. These apps serve as virtual freight brokers or dispatchers for local jobs. They even track a load’s delivery.

Another trucker’s friend are apps like Drivewyze that permit trucks to legally pass by inspection and weigh stations. The program serves to pre-screen trucks before they arrive at the highway stops based on advance transmission of DOT numbers and safety scores. In light of the time and fuel spent idling to get to the weigh station, these kinds of apps save time and money.

One new app, TruckerPath, is an interactive system sharing users’ experiences with truck stops, highway rest areas, weigh stations and other spots. With user input fueling the app, truckers can locate places quickly and learn about others’ feedback.

However, the use of these apps comes with a very strong safety warning. Never use an app while you are driving. Not only is mobile phone use illegal while driving in many areas, the distraction has proven to be very dangerous for both driver and others on the road. The bottom line: do not use any app while you are behind the wheel and the truck is rolling.

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