A Brief Trucking Industry Review for 2012

The last few years have seen many challenges and changes in the trucking industry. New regulations, fluctuating fuel prices, and a volatile economy have all impacted logistics. There will always be difficulties to face, but the light is brighter at the end of this tunnel. 2012 was an overall good year for much of the industry, and things are looking great for 2013, as well.

Tonnage

Although tonnage varied month to month, it showed steady improvement through the first half of 2012, and finished strong, with a 3.7% freight truck tonnage improvement for November, 2012, when compared to November, 2011. Increased tonnage is good for trucking, but it’s also an economic indicator for overall American manufacturing.

Fuel Prices

Diesel and gasoline prices have been in a steady decline since early September, 2012. Gas prices for 12/17/12 was only $0.025 higher than the same time last year, while diesel fuel prices rose $0.117. Stable fuel prices have allowed for longer term planning and projections in the industry.

Economy

The Bloomberg report shared two interesting trucking industry economic indicators: “The for-hire truck-tonnage index rose 2.8 percent in April from a year earlier… marking 29 months of growth, based on data from the American Trucking Associations. The economy has never contracted without tonnage turning negative first. Another index that tracks the movement of goods between manufacturers and consumers also is a ‘good barometer,’ said Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis at FTR Associates. FTR’s index of U.S. truck loadings increased 3 percent to 115.9 in April from a year earlier, the highest since 2008, based on data from the Nashville, Indiana-based transportation-forecasting
company.”

Going Green

Alternate fuels, such as natural gas, could reduce emissions by as much as 25% over the next few years. Aerodynamic improvements, like trailer-skirts, not only pay for themselves, but reduce the carbon footprint by lowering fuel consumption. Driving strategies also save fuel; for example, reducing cruising speed from 65mph to 55mph saves 8 to 12% fuel use. These savings are multiplied by the millions of miles traveled yearly by commercial trucking in America.

Regulations

Updated HOS (hours of service) regulations reduced commercial drivers’ hours to a daily maximum of 10 hours per day, from 11, with a new weekly total of 60/70 hours over 7/8 consecutive days. New DOT (Department of Transportation) regulations include monitoring hours with an EOBR (electronic on-board recorder), and new drug screening requirements, which will affect recruiting practices. As well, new CDL (Commercial driver’s License) regulations for veterans should help the trucking industry with one of its biggest challenges…

Driver Shortage

It’s estimated the trucking industry is short 150,000 drivers. With turnover as high as 100%, an exodus of experienced drivers retiring, and stricter qualifications and screening for new drivers, this challenge will extend beyond 2012.

All in all, 2012 was a good year in the trucking industry with improvements across the board. What’s your opinion? Are you in the industry? If so, let us know about your year. We hope it was it was a fruitful, productive, and profitable year, and that 2013 is even better.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our blog or join us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and let’s continue the conversation.