Stepping Up from 2016: Optimism for the New Year

 

With January already well under way, getting closer to inauguration day when President Trump takes his first official steps into office, it’s time to take a look at where the trucking industry has taken it’s own steps to start off the year. While there’s still a lot of ground to cover over the course of 2017, here’s what we know so far.

Driver Shortage is a Major Concern

One of the biggest problems of 2016 still remains among the top concerns going into 2017. With the median age of truck drivers approaching retirement age, many companies are struggling to find drivers to keep their fleets moving. Some trucking companies are upping the ante by increasing incentives, wages, and anything else they can use to entice drivers to take up the keys.

Some trucking companies are upping the ante by increasing incentives, wages, and anything else they can use to entice drivers to take up the keys.

According to a survey conducted by the Commercial Carrier Journal, driver availability is ranked as the top concern for nearly half, 44.8 of the respondents. The next highest concern is freight pricing, coming in at 32.9 percent.

Driver retention is a close second in terms of concern

While driver shortage wasn’t quite at the forefront of concern in 2016, according to the American Transportation Research Institutes top ten index, it did rank in at 16% of total industry concern, with a total index rating of 36.5. Driver retention is a close second in terms of concern, with an ATRI index rating of 30.5.  With less concern over other matters, the driver shortage is becoming a more prominent issue for the trucking industry.

Less Concern About Politics

While the election of Donald Trump to become the next President of the United States has caused quite a stir for most people (one way or another) there is considerably less concern when it comes to the trucking industry. Among the top concerns during 2016 was the enforcement of the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandates to more accurately track Hours of Service for drivers. Also thrown into the mix were a number of new regulations including the EPA phase two of greenhouse gas emissions. Now, however, the political climate has dropped to only 2.6 percent of the respondents on the CCJ survey. So what made the change?

Trump has announced that there will be a considerable overhauling of the country’s infrastructure

For starters, Trump has announced that there will be a considerable overhauling of the country’s infrastructure, making the roads more agreeable for trucks and drivers, which would ideally reduce the concerns for traffic, safety, and other snarls that occur within the transportation industry. However, as with anything else, these changes will come with a price. Trump isn’t willing to add to the deficit to pay for the road improvements. Instead, the trucking industry will have to foot the bill, likely in the form of tolls and higher fuel taxes.

The trucking industry will have to foot the bill, likely in the form of tolls and higher fuel taxes

In addition to the infrastructure overhaul, the trucking industry might see some of the Obama administration’s regulations reversed, giving the industry a little much needed breathing room.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

While it’s still a bit early to have any definitive proof, many in the trucking industry are feeling optimistic about 2017, with anything being a welcome change to the slog that was the previous year. As it stands, driver sentiment is slowly beginning to creep up according to the CCJ survey.

“The Carrier Sentiment Index for November was 5.71, a slight increase from the October survey (5.61). The index assesses the month on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the carrier’s worst month and 10 being the best. Responses from both groups were nearly identical: 5.70 for respondents from fleets with up to 100 power units compared to 5.72 for respondents from fleets with more than 100 power units.”

Combined with better roads and newer logistics tech hitting the commercial marketplace, the trucking industry could have a very promising year ahead of them. However, only time will tell at this point.

 

 

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