Will Fourth-Quarter Trends Continue in Trucking?
2017 is well on its way, and carriers are adjusting their efforts to finish the year on a strong note. 2016 has brought many unique challenges for the truck driving industry. These include things like an upcoming industry-wide ELD mandate, high inventories and a demand slump, veteran drivers retiring, and insurance and other costs potentially rising.
Historically, the end of the year sees a slight change in the demand for freight services. Though a recent ATA report detailed how the coming decade is expected to be generally positive for the trucking industry, the challenges of 2016 have made some carriers hesitant about how the year will round out.
An increase in demand would be welcomed, as a fragmented trucking market works best when a centralized approach isn’t very effective. The end of the year can sometimes have a multiplicative effect on demand, meaning that carriers can normally expect to see things pick up.
Another thing which may have an impact on this trend is the continued move toward a greener industry. With low-emission engines and technology becoming a norm, carriers are having to invest now in order to reap benefits later.
Additional changes in the industry this year include the proposal of a new maximum speed limit for heavier vehicles. With so many changes affecting the industry this year, it can be difficult to tell whether the fourth quarter will provide the type of demand carriers look for.
Recent data does show an increase in the number of drivers on the road and in training compared to recent years. This trend may help validate ATA’s prediction that the industry will be lucrative in the future.