Investors are pouring millions of dollars into startups hoping to disrupt the $700 billion trucking industry, the latest example of Silicon Valley’s efforts to upend the traditional economy. A series of startups are vying to become an “Uber of trucking,” leveraging truck drivers’ smartphones to quickly connect them with nearby companies looking to ship goods. The upstarts aim to reinvent a fragmented U.S. trucking industry that has long relied on third-party brokers, essentially travel agents for trucking who connect truckers with customers.
Ghostruck is an on-demand mobile app that connects people and businesses with professional movers who have empty or partially-filled trucks. The year-old Seattle company wants to eliminate "ghost trucking" -- an industry term for an empty truck heading to home base after it has delivered its goods and completed a job.
"Twenty-five percent of moving trucks on the road today are completely empty or have available space," said Nathanael Nienaber, Ghostruck co-founder and CEO.
Trucking companies, struggling to attract enough drivers, may soon be able to put more teenagers behind the wheel. Under federal law, states can grant anyone over 18 a commercial drivers’ license, the main qualification to drive a truck. However, few drivers start that young because they need to be 21 to haul freight across state lines. Trucking executives say the age limit is making it hard to find enough drivers, with the most severe shortage in long-haul trucking, which typically requires drivers to cross state lines.