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No shortage of challenges for the trucking industry

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
October 17, 2011

It is no secret that the trucking industry is not without its challenges. To cite a few examples, go look at what is happening with the proposed Hours-of-Service (HOS) changes, CSA, relatively high diesel prices or any number of other issues.

Still not sold? Take a look at Mike Regan’s October 2010 blog, entitled “The War on Trucking,” or his March 2011 follow-up. If you have not read these, I urge you to do so, as it will be time well spent.

Another hard-to-ignore issue impacting the trucking industry is the economy. This was made clear by American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves in his annual State of the Industry Address.

In this address, Graves highlighted the fact that the federal debt and unemployment figures continue to head in the wrong direction, coupled with the number of government regulations the industry is facing….and, of course, he mentioned the political disharmony occurring inside and outside the Beltway, but that is not new.

Even with these myriad challenges, Graves rang optimistic on future prospects for the industry and the nation’s economic outlook.

“I really believe we are blessed with a country, with a people and with an economy that is capable of surviving anything our government can throw at it,” Graves said. “Government is not supposed to solve all our problems-but at this point we’d be thrilled if government could figure out how to not ‘be the problem.’ During this time of economic uncertainty, it’s easy to misjudge the opportunity that’s on the trucking industry’s horizon,” Graves said. “The economy will recover. And when it does, the trucking industry is going to be one of the ‘first in line’ beneficiaries.”

His last line is hard to overlook, considering that the May 2011 ATA U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2022, which was put together by the ATA, IHS Global Insight, and Martin Labbe Associates, revealed these data points, among several others:
-trucking comprised 81 percent of revenue and 67 percent of all tonnage in 2010;
-total freight tonnage is expected to grow by 24 percent in 2022 and revenue for the
entire freight transportation sector is expected to rise by 66 percent during the same timeframe; and
-trucking’s total share of the freight transportation market will bump up to 70 percent by 2022, although the industry’s share of freight revenue will rise to 81.4 percent from 81.2 percent.

These are significant numbers, considering the state of flux we find ourselves in. But the trucking sector and all of the freight transportation industry for that matter are comprised of people who know how to get things done and make quick adjustments on the fly.

But as I mentioned before, there are challenges, too. Here are ten of them from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), a division of the ATA, that focus on the top ten critical issues facing the trucking industry today. Take a look at the top 4 and see how they may match up with some of your business issues:
1-the economy
2-proposed HOS changes
3-a driver shortage
5-fuel issues
7-transportation funding
8-tort reform
9-onboard truck technology
10-truck size and weight

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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