Earlier this year, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee about the urgent need to address the nation’s failing infrastructure. “Truck drivers are on the front lines,” he said. “Each day, they see potholes getting deeper, bridges getting weaker.
It is either an existential threat to the trucking industry or the biggest non-event since Geraldo Rivera cracked open Al Capone’s secret vault back in 1986.The topic? The driver shortage, of course – an issue that has garnered countless headlines over the past several years and which some fear eventually could slow the North American economy. So, is the driver shortage ‘fake news?’ The US Bureau of Labor statistics analysis says yes; industry insiders disagree.
In January 2015, long-haul driver Kevin Kimmel entered a truck stop outside Richmond, VA, for a rest break and to complete his log. As he worked, he observed men gathered around a nearby RV. And he saw something else: a young woman's face at the window—but fleetingly, as though someone inside the vehicle had pulled her from view.
Where is the economy headed? Will shipper demand remain strong? What is the outlook for freight carriers?
These are burning questions for anyone in the transportation space, given the complex factors influencing today’s economy. A closer look at economic trend analysis provides some answers.
The surging production of crude oil and natural gas in the Permian Basin have added more pressure to the already low numbers of available capacity within the transportation and logistics industry. But, you won’t hear carriers complaining as they rake in the dough.
Trimble Transportation CTO Timothy Leonard recently joined a panel of leading technology companies to discuss the “Future of Transportation” at Morgan Stanley’s Canadian Emerging Tech Conference. Leonard was joined by Andrew Macdonald, vice president and regional general manager of Asia-Pacific at Uber, and Colin Sutherland, EVP of sales and marketing at Geotab, a telematics company.
“The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company.”
– Ginni Rometty, Chair, President and CEO of IBM
With a little more than 18 months left in the decade, what are the main concerns for the trucking industry before we reach 2020? Three association leaders representing the Iowa Motor Truck Association, Toronto Transportation Club and the Women In Trucking Association informally shared their observations on the hot topics being discussed among their membership and what’s keeping them up at night.
There is much reason for the trucking industry to be optimistic as we enter 2018. For one, freight levels have improved significantly for the industry. In addition, the combination of better freight volumes and for-hire fleets not adding to truck counts in 2017 absorbed much of the excess capacity that plagued the industry over the previous couple of years. With both the main drivers of truck freight demand doing well and the use of electronic logging devices now required, 2018 could be the best year the industry has experienced in the post deregulation era. Indeed, two of the biggest challenges for motor carriers this year will be finding enough qualified drivers and covering all their loads.