Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA
Truckstop and Bloomberg Intelligence Survey Shows Freight Brokers Mostly Unfazed by Industry Challenges
BOISE, ID… The Bloomberg | Truckstop semi-annual freight broker survey shows brokers remain relatively optimistic about their prospects over the next six months in the face of weaker demand, falling rates and increased competition.
“Despite fewer spot opportunities and moderate economic activity, brokers remain fairly optimistic with about 61% surveyed expecting demand growth over the next six months,” said Lee Klaskow, senior freight transportation and logistics analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “Freight-broker sentiment is becoming less bleak as spot-rate conditions might be nearing a bottom and an economic soft landing may be achievable.”
The Bloomberg | Truckstop first half 2023 Broker survey shows brokers are optimistic:
* Brokers have a glimmer of hope on demand: About 46% of respondents said volume fell in 1H-23 compared with a year earlier, or about 12 percentage points higher than in our survey six months earlier. Though more reported lower demand, the magnitude of declines averaged about 2% compared with last year. About 35% of respondents said 1H volume rose, driven mostly by newer broker businesses gaining share or customer-specific developments.
* Spot rate sentiment bounces off bottom: Spot rates excluding fuel surcharges have fallen 31% since peaking at the end of 2021 and are down 13% from last year’s levels. Brokers have become more optimistic about the outlook, with the drop in rates appearing to be near a bottom. About 46% of those surveyed expect spot rates to rise over the next 3-6 months, 18 percentage points better than the 2H-22 survey, which marked a low in sentiment.
* Brokers feeling better about gross margins: About 37% of respondents had a lower gross margin in 1H than a year earlier, or 8 percentage points higher than our previous semiannual result. Despite the declines, brokers remain optimistic about gross-margin expansion this year, with 54% expecting a widening over 2022 levels.
“Truckstop is committed to delivering innovative products that provide brokers with the highest quality carriers for the right load, at the right time, during all market conditions,” said Kendra Tucker, chief executive officer, Truckstop. “It’s imperative that we continue to equip brokers with the tools they need to find coverage, meet capacity and increase profits.”
Bloomberg | Truckstop survey of freight brokers provides timely channel checks into the market’s health. The most recent sample size was 184, consisting of freight forwarders, third-party logistics providers and broker agents, as well as asset and non-asset-based brokers. Most respondents (61%) have 1-50 employees. Of those surveyed, broker agents made up the biggest group (34%), followed by non-asset-based brokers (28%) and third-party logistic providers (22%).
The complete survey is available to Bloomberg Terminal subscribers via BI.
Teamsters Release Autonomous Vehicle Policy Framework
WASHINGTON, DC… The International Brotherhood of Teamsters released a guiding document for federal policymakers to address issues with autonomous vehicles (AVs). The framework, Autonomous Vehicle Federal Policy Principles, arrives at a critical time when accidents caused by self-driving cars and trucks increasingly harm families and put communities at risk across the nation.
“Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters turn a key for a living, so we are fiercely committed to working with Congress and federal regulators to get AV policy right,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Strong federal AV policies must prioritize both workers and safety. Any legislation that puts workers and the general public at risk will be met with aggressive opposition by the Teamsters and our allies.”
The Teamsters have outlined five key principles for Congress and federal regulators to follow for a federal AV policy that protects workers and enforces safety standards, including:
* Regulating the vehicle: The federal government has authority over vehicle manufacturing and performance standards and must apply these authorities to self-driving cars and trucks;
* Regulating the operator: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the driver of commercial vehicles, and the circumstances and safety conditions in which they operate;
* Regulating operations: The Dept. of Transportation and FMCSA possess numerous regulatory authorities related to the safe operations of vehicles and the ability of carriers to receive authority to begin and continue operations;
* Interaction with other laws: Congress must consider issues that may arise from the relationship between existing law and the efforts to legislate and regulate AVs; and
* Workforce impacts: Congress cannot entertain any legislative package dealing with self-driving cars and trucks that does not directly and forcefully address issues related to the workforce, and any changing operational or economic conditions that occur as the result of AV commercialization.
Congress must act as a strong appetite exists among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address issues with AVs. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit was scheduled to hold a hearing to discuss self-driving trucks in mid-September.
“On behalf of the 1.2 million Teamsters who either drive a truck or are expected share the road with AVs, we strongly urging the adoption of these proposals. Lawmakers need to step up and get this done now,” O’Brien said.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.
St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund Celebrates Truck Driver Appreciation Week
Corporate sponsors share their gratitude for drivers though TDAW campaign
KNOXVILLE, TN… The St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) is gearing up for Truck Driver Appreciation Week with special messages of gratitude and recognition to truck drivers with the help of corporate sponsors Brenny Transportation, Shell Rotella, Pilot, Echo Global Logistics, and Truckstop. This year's Truck Driver Appreciation Week is September 10-16, 2023. Each of the sponsors has graciously donated $5,000 to St. Christopher as part of the campaign, which will kick off on September 1 and run through September 30. The campaign includes a landing page with statements of support, and pictures and stories of drivers that are the backbone of the corporate sponsors.
“I am so proud to be the St. Christopher Fund Board President, which gives me one more opportunity to highlight the importance of professional truck drivers,” said Joyce Brenny, president of Brenny Transportation Inc., & Brenny Specialized. “Professional Truck drivers, you are the leaders of our industry! Thank you!”
Drivers are the hands and feet that keep our country running and they take care of the brand on the road. Over the last 15 years, nearly 4,000 drivers have turned to the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund for support when an illness or injury took them off the road.
"We are honored to support truckers through the St. Christopher Fund, especially during this recognition week,” said Julie Wright, North American Brand Manager at Shell Rotella. “This builds on the commitment Shell Rotella made to work with SCF throughout 2023 and beyond.”
SCF is the only non-profit in the industry tangibly supporting drivers when they are out of work because of injury or illness. SCF also has proven success with our FREE Health and Wellness programs including tobacco cessation, diabetes prevention, vaccine vouchers for flu, pneumonia and shingles, and prostate cancer screenings.
“We are incredibly proud and honored to support our nation’s truck drivers this National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, and every week, alongside the St. Christopher Fund, as they extend their helping hand to drivers navigating their toughest moments,” said Kendra Tucker, chief executive officer, Truckstop. “Thank you to all the hard-working truck drivers for all that you do – you truly are the rockstars of the road.”
This TDAW campaign recognizes drivers as essential trucking heroes and shares real names and faces of real drivers delivering real goods, we all depend on every day. Drivers will be highlighted on SCF’s TDAW landing page. To nominate a driver go to SCF’s TDAW landing page and share your driver’s story.
“We are so grateful for our sponsors who have come forward to show their appreciation for their drivers during Truck Driver Appreciation Week,” said Shannon Currier, Director of Philanthropy with St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund. “Support of drivers through the St. Christopher Fund provides help and hope when drivers need it most. Together, we can make a real difference in drivers’ lives. Because truck drivers are more than their job title. They are real people, with real families.”
The St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund was founded in 2008 by Dr. John McElligott (“Dr. John”), radio host Dave Nemo of the Dave Nemo Show (XM Radio Channel 146) and his business partner Michael Burns. It all started when Dr. John felt compelled to take action after witnessing hundreds of truck drivers and their families struggle to survive as a result of catastrophic illness or injury. Dr. John found willing partners in Dave and Michael and together they launched the truck driver charity to come to the aid of professional drivers in need.
To date, the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) has provided $4.5+ million directly to bill holders on behalf of 3,754+ professional drivers.
About SCF: www.truckersfund.org
The St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) helps over-the-road semi-truck drivers and their families who are out of work due to a recent illness or injury. Assistance may be in the form of direct payment to providers for household living expenses such as, rent/mortgage, utilities, vehicle payments, and insurance. The SCF also provides free health and wellness programs including diabetes prevention, smoking cessation, and prostate cancer screenings. For more information, visit TruckersFund.org.
New Roadmaster Truck Driving School in Louisville, Kentucky, Prepares Drivers for the Road Ahead
St. Petersburg, FL… The current estimate from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) indicates a decreasing truck driver shortage of 64,000 in 2023 compared to 78,000 in 2022. However, this near-20% drop-off is expected to be short-lived. In an economic slowdown, freight transportation declines as consumer demand wanes. Conversely, if 2024 experiences a positive shift in economic growth, both consumer and freight requirements will surge, causing a projected record-high shortage of 82,000 truck drivers. Current driver demographics and growing freight demand could inflate the driver shortage to over 160,000 in the next decade. To keep pace with this trend, the trucking industry must hire roughly 1.2 million drivers in 10 years.1 To accommodate this unprecedented demand, Roadmaster Drivers School, the leading Class A CDL (commercial driver’s license) truck driver training program, has opened a new location in Louisville, Kentucky, and is holding a Grand Opening on October 26th at 11:00 a.m.
According to a recent Employ survey of over 1,200 HR leaders and recruiters, employees are leaving their jobs because they are looking for higher pay or a more flexible work environment. Other reasons include career growth, concerns about unemployment, and bad experiences with their management or work culture. One in ten employees rated their fear of becoming unemployed as a top motivator for proactively seeking out alternative career opportunities. Others were looking for a life change or a new challenge.2
As if answering the clarion call of discontented employees everywhere, Indeed offers a helpful list of the benefits a career in truck driving offers, including:
* A national average salary of $65,457 per year.
* Travel, aka adventure!
* Career advancement.
* Generous benefits like medical, dental, and vacation time.
* Flexible schedules.
* A sense of community.
“Local Truck Driver” is ranked #2 among Indeed’s most in-demand jobs in Kentucky for 2023, with an estimated salary of $56,156 to $94,414 per year.4 According to Zippia’s data on the average annual salary and available jobs per capita, Kentucky is the best state in the country to be a truck driver.5 Brad Ball, President of Roadmaster Drivers School, says, “The new Roadmaster Louisville location could be a tremendous opportunity for residents who may be unemployed, underemployed, or looking for a career change.”
Ball notes, “A career in truck driving provides job stability along with competitive compensation and benefits. We've trained over 100,000 men and women, and the industry is becoming more diverse, with equal pay across races and genders."
Historically, truck driving has been a male-dominated industry. However, women are now entering the profession in greater numbers. According to the 2022 WIT (Women in Trucking) Index, 13.7% of the truck drivers on the road are women, while 40% hold positions in dispatcher and safety roles, and nearly 75% perform roles in HR and talent management.6
A bipartisan bill promoting truck driver tax credits has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act is designed to encourage new drivers to join the industry and retain existing drivers by creating a refundable income tax credit for qualified commercial drivers. The proposed bill would offer a refundable tax credit, up to $7,500, for truck drivers with a valid Class A CDL who log a minimum of 1,900 hours annually between 2023 and 2024. Truckers new to the profession and those participating in accredited trucking apprenticeships could qualify for a refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 during the same two-year period.
Ball explains, “It takes about a month, on average, to complete CDL training classes. Roadmaster is there for you every step of the way, from in-classroom training to hands-on driving training. We also offer financial assistance for those who qualify.” He adds, “We would love for those interested in a life on the road to visit and explore our new training facility. Just stopping by to see us could lead you down the path to a thrilling and lucrative new career.
“We’re looking forward to meeting adventurous Louisville-area residents ready to embark on their new and exciting vocation and to support them with training on their professional journey.”
The grand opening ceremony for the Roadmaster Drivers School of Louisville's new training facility will be on October 26th between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Members of the press, prospective students, and the general public are warmly invited to attend at 141 Orion Drive, Shepherdsville, Kentucky, 40165.
Ball remarks, “Trucking isn't just a job; it's an essential, respected, and increasingly well-paying gig these days. So, if you, or someone you know, is looking to step into a promising future, why not have a chat with us? It could turn out to be the best move you've ever made.”
Feel free to call us at 502-676-5710.
Nation’s Top Highway Official Celebrates Opening of 200 New Truck Parking Spaces to Improve Safety Along Interstate 80 in Wyoming
LARAMIE, WY… The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt joined federal, state and local officials in Laramie, Wyo., to unveil 200 new truck parking spaces along Interstate 80. These new truck parking spaces will improve safety during winter snow and ice storm operations and facilitate safe and efficient freight movement along one of the busiest Interstates in the U.S. Bhatt also announced a new data visualization tool to simplify access to localized freight data that will help states and local governments plan for the rise in freight transportation and movement of goods nationwide.
“Supply chain issues are critical for our economy. Truck parking shortages make our roads less safe and the movement of goods to market less efficient,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Today we’re addressing the problem on two fronts – by adding new parking capacity so truckers on I-80 have a safe place to rest and by expanding the data available on freight movement so state and local agencies can be better equipped to understand and plan for truck parking needs.”
“Interstate 80 through Wyoming is such a critical highway for freight movement nationwide,” said Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Darin Westby. “Thanks to the Federal BUILD grant, these interstate upgrades will help improve safety for truck drivers as they drive to and through the state to deliver the goods and supplies that communities depend on.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation provided $27.7 million toward this project, including a $20 million grant from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program (now known as the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program).
In Wyoming, the I-80 Winter Freight Improvement Project includes construction of approximately 5.5 miles of passing lanes and two truck parking areas on I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins in southeastern Wyoming, providing one hundred truck parking spaces on each end of the project. The parking areas include Intelligent Transportation Systems improvements and will help improve safety and freight movement particularly during winter snow and ice storm operations, which historically have caused long backups and serious collisions. The improvements will provide a safe area for trucks to park while allowing space for snow removal to occur along the interstate to allow operations to resume following winter snow and ice events.
By 2050, Wyoming will see freight carried by trucks increase by about 80 percent in value to $58 billion and a 63 percent increase in weight to 69 million tons. Likewise, freight movement at the national level is on the rise with the dollar value of total trade expected to reach more than $20 trillion in the United States in 2023, with trucks representing the dominant transportation mode at 72 percent. Between 2023 and 2050, the U.S. will see freight activity grow by about 78 percent in value to 36 trillion dollars, and trucks will continue to be the single most-used mode for transporting freight.
With the transport of goods by truck on the increase, the single most-used mode of freight transport in the nation, the newly launched the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) Data Visualization Tool makes it easier to view and work with a variety of private sector freight data at national, state and local levels to understand these growth trends.
The FAF tool combines data in a variety of ways, including by dollar value, tonnage, mileage, commodity, and mode of transport–reflecting goods movement by truck, rail, air, water or pipeline. It contains historical data on freight flows back to 1997 and projections through 2050 using high- or low-freight demand scenarios. The information can be displayed as interstate or intrastate trade flows and from the state level to metro areas. Illuminating these complex freight flow patterns will enable productive dialogue among freight data users and decision makers.
Administrator Bhatt emphasized that the new tool will help aspiring grant applicants strengthen their proposals for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding by filling the gap for small cities and towns and rural communities and Tribal governments that may not have experienced data experts on staff. By applying results from this tool to better understand goods movement, these non-traditional applicants can improve their planning, project prioritization, and federal funding applications to make the case for project funding.
More Than $80 Million in Grants to Improve Highway Safety, Including Better Access to Truck Parking
WASHINGTON, DC… The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced more than $80 million in grant awards from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This historic funding will help reduce the frequency and severity of commercial motor vehicle crashes on our nation’s roadways and support truck drivers by expanding access to truck parking, investing in critical technology, improving safety in work zones, rural areas and high crash corridors, and more. Grant recipients include states, local governments, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions across the country.
The High Priority grants include a 65% increase in funding for truck parking projects over last year and enhance critical efforts to support truck drivers and improve safety such as:
* Expand access to truck parking by helping truck drivers locate available rest area truck parking spaces in real time via dynamic message signs along highways in Kentucky, Delaware, and Indiana.
* Research to support automated, location-based driver alerts via electronic logging devices that inform drivers of upcoming work zones --- improving safety for both the drivers and the workers.
* Enhancement of electronic screening technologies to detect vehicle violations (such as automated license plate readers, USDOT number readers, tire monitoring system, and hazardous materials placard readers).
* Outreach and education to combat human trafficking, an effort in which truck drivers can play a key role given their time and attention on the road.
“We depend on truck drivers every day, and we have a national responsibility to support their safety and job quality,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today, we are proud to deliver new funding that will improve safety on our nation’s roads.”
This builds on the Biden-Administration's continued investment in truck parking and safety on our nation’s roadways, which includes over $80 million invested in new truck parking spaces across the country.
* Caldwell County, Texas: $22.9 million RAISE grant to design and construct a truck parking plaza that improves safety and convenience for truck drivers. Plaza will include short- and long-term spaces with lighting, fencing, restroom and shower facilities, with 24-hour monitored security.
* Caldwell Parish, Louisiana: $10.5 million RAISE grant to buy land and build a Truck Parking facility near the port and a highway for 50 commercial trucks, 100 cars, and EV charging stations that are designed to provide auxiliary power units to power a truck cab’s heating and cooling, without having to run the engine while also recharging trucks. There will also be a system to find parking spaces in real-time.
* On I-4 Between Tampa and Orlando: $15 million INFRA grant for a new truck parking facility with approximately 120 spaces, electric charging stations, and pedestrian infrastructure to access nearby commercial amenities.
* Near Memphis, Tennessee: $22 million INFRA grant adds 125 truck parking spaces at a spot along I-40—a critical freight corridor. Project will also upgrade adjacent bridge structures.
All HP grant applications undergo a series of reviews before award selection. Please visit FMCSA’s grant program page for additional information on the discretionary application announcement, review, and approval process.
ATA’s Statement on President’s Visit to UAW Picket Line
Washington, DC… ATA President & CEO Chris Spear released this statement on President Joe Biden’s visit to Michigan on Tuesday to join the United Auto Workers’ picket line:
“President Biden has escalated this conflict. This is nothing but political theater.
“Rather than mediating a swift resolution, the President has chosen one party over the other. This affront to U.S. businesses is already killing supply chain jobs and upending livelihoods.
“He ran as a uniter but is now using the bully pulpit to stoke division.”
“Is this what the most pro-union president in history wants for America? Putting companies out of business, people out of jobs, work stoppages and now crippling strikes? If this is our future, we want nothing to do with it.
"Does anyone think demanding a 40% pay raise is reasonable, let alone realistic? Nor is a four-day work week, paid at 40 hours. How exactly do you assemble vehicles without your employees present?
"The UAW needs to stop showboating off the heels of this administration's union-biased agenda, come to the table, and put our nation's economy first."
ATA Urges Congress to Establish National Framework for Automated Vehicles
Washington, DC… THE American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that automated vehicle technology holds great promise to enhance highway safety, boost economic productivity, and support trucking’s essential workforce.
In order to harness this technology’s full potential, Spear emphasized that regulations must be consistent to avoid a patchwork of rules that treat highway users differently.
“What’s needed first is a national framework that encourages development, testing and deployment of technology, in direct support of interstate commerce,” Spear said in a hearing before the panel’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. “Federal guidance should treat commercial and passenger vehicles equally and require automated vehicles to achieve an acceptable level of safety and performance, rather than requiring the use of specific technologies.”
Spear noted that the hearing falls during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, a celebration of the nation’s 3.5 million professional drivers, and highlighted how automated vehicle technology can coexist, making drivers jobs easier while reducing persistent shortages that have long impacted the industry.
“There’s plenty of room for innovation to help fill this gap without displacing drivers,” said Spear. “To the contrary, we see this technology as improving the essential job of truck driving by making it safer, more productive, and less stressful. We believe it is vital to attracting the next generation of talent into the profession.”
In addition, Spear said “securing cargo and ensuring that the movement of hazardous materials, livestock and produce, particularly in extreme weather conditions, are factors that will undoubtedly require a driver, superseding the values of automation.”
With an eye toward the future, Spear underscored the importance of continuing to develop domestically sourced chips and software to maintain the United States’ leadership in innovation as well as prevent cybersecurity threats.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 0.2% in August
Washington — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.2% in August after rising 1.1% in July. In August, the index equaled 115.3 (2015=100) compared with 115 in July.
“The evidence is growing that tonnage hit bottom in April and continues its slow climb upwards,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, year-over-year comparisons remain difficult as tonnage peaked in September of last year. As a result, it is unlikely that tonnage turns positive compared with a year earlier for at least a month or two longer. Most recently, freight continues to be mixed, with consumer spending and factory output flat to down.”
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 120.7 in August, 6.3% above the July level (113.6). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.6% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.46 billion tons of freight in 2022. Motor carriers collected $940.8 billion, or 80.7% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.