Trucking Updates: The Latest News in the Industry

Below is your trucking news brief:

Volume                   

According to the DAT Freight Index, freight volume on the spot market increased last month 48% compared to February 2016.1

Tonnage

The American Trucking Associations’ Bob Costello noted that its for-hire truck tonnage index has decreased 0.1% last month and is down 2.8% year-over-year.2

Rates

Flatbed freight rates increased in February while van and reefer pricing decreased, according to the DAT Freight Index. 1

Hair Testing

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration advised the industry that a proposal, which would acknowledge hair testing as an acceptable form for a carrier to drug test its employees, would likely be released by year’s end or early 2018.  Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Transportation, only recognize the conduction of a urinalysis as the proper form of drug screening; however, this process only uncovers traces in the system within the past two or three days.3  Therefore, many carriers also require their employees to undergo hair testing as well, which provides detection as far back as 60-90 days, preventing employees that know they will be tested, the ability to refrain from usage a few days prior to the test to receive a negative result.3

Healthcare

President Trump is expected to speak today on “healthcare and its negative impacts on the trucking industry and livelihood.”4While details have not yet been made public, we do know that healthcare has been a recent debate with stats demonstrating that 14 million people would lose insurance coverage in the first year if the American Health Care Act is signed into law and 24 million by the year 2026.4

Truck Platoon Testing

States are showing mixed opinions regarding the authority to test autonomous trucks on highways through the use of platooning, allowing a truck to “control the speed and braking of other trucks.”5Massachusetts and Michigan were two of the states expressing concern that these trucks can lead to “economic hardship” by removing drivers from their career.  Other states, such as Arkansas, Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and California support such efforts, many advancing bills that permit truck platooning.

Conclusion

Overall, research firm FTR’s Jonathan Starks believes trucking will have a good year, especially with carriers having to adhere to the requirement of electronic logging devices by Dec.  “We expect a productivity and capacity hit to the industry, though the effects will be felt differently, with early adopters ahead of the curve.  One of the big issues we expect companies to continue to struggle with is the driver situation, with the number of new hires not keeping pace with overall demand for drivers.  If capacity doesn’t meet demand, then truckers will be able to raise prices. However, we don’t expect to see that impact until late 2017, or into 2018.”1

 

1http://www.ccjdigital.com/indicators-trucking-conditions-point-to-better-year-ahead-freight-jumped-in-february/

2http://trucker.com/business/february-tonnage-slip-nothing-worry-about-ata-reports

3http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2015/mar/20/testing-of-hair-option-in-2-bills-20150/?f=business

4http://www.thetrucker.com/News/Story/PresidentDonaldTrumptomeetThursdaywithtruckingrepresentatives

5http://landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=33040#.WNKZm2e1uM8