Last month, ATA (American Trucking Industry) released the US Freight Forecast for 2024, predicting 20% growth in freight volume by 2024. The majority will be shipped by truck. “The trucking industry continues to dominate the freight transportation industry for both tonnage and revenue,” said ATA Chief Economist, Bob Costello, noting that the forecast projects trucking’s share of tonnage will rise to 70.8% by 2024 from 68.5% in 2012. Considering the current severe shortage of drivers, transitioning equipment, volatile fuel prices, and ever tightening regulations—can the industry be prepared in time? Yes, but it won’t be easy.
Regulations, Logistics and Truckers
Commercial motor carriers need to stay on top of current regulations, but they should look to the future as well. Understanding how the latest HOS (Hours of Service) can affect a trucking company can mean the difference between profit and loss. Current trends—if they continue unchanged—will mean less working hours available for drivers.
Technology will continue to affect the industry. The EORB (Electronic Onboard Recorder) is an example of modern technology being used to track and control mandates. What does the future hold with possible electronic monitoring of fuel mileage, speed, and distracted driving?
The Threat of Truck Driver Shortage
It’s estimated the trucking industry has a shortage of over 150,000 drivers. Two trends are converging to became a major hurdle—the continued driver shortage and the increased demand for shipping. Companies who improve their competency in hiring drivers of character will be at an advantage. If you want to keep the driver shortage at bay—you must first understand why it has happened. Expensive training and low pay (especially in the first year) with little or no time home, combined with an unhealthy lifestyle, make this proud profession unappealing to young people. Here’s where you can start.
Cost Effective Trucking
The margins in trucking are already tight and this won’t change—it’ll only get tougher, and therein lies the opportunity. Saving on fuel by using alternate sources, such as electricity and bio-diesel, can expand the margins. Likewise, aerodynamic cabs and trailers constructed of modern materials will add to profits in the long haul.
Will the trucking industry be ready for 2024? It’ll depend on the vision of leaders. Some commercial carriers will be ready, while others won’t survive. Do you and your organization have the vision to be prepared? What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trucking industry?