The Trucking Industry in 2018: Some Numbers Look Good and Some…not so Much!

Posted by Skye Robinson | January 30, 2018 | blog, Newsletter
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We hear a lot of talk about driver shortages, increasing numbers of requirements like ELDs, the development of semi-autonomous trucks, and other gloom-and-doom topics that can cast a cloud over the future of the trucking industry. However, the trucking industry is still going strong because it’s needed: Nearly 70 percent of the freight shipped throughout the U.S. is on a truck at some point as it makes its way to its final destination.

Admittedly, though, the trucking industry is like so many in this uncertain age: a little hopeful, a little doubtful, with some numbers pointing up and others pointing, well, not up—or else they point up but not in a positive way.

As the new year gets underway, we thought we’d take a look at what the numbers will be like for fleet managers in the year ahead, both the good and the bad. Here’s what we found…

Some numbers are looking up!
A few of the good increases we should see in 2018 include:

  • The number of goods hauled will go up, as the economy and consumer demand both continue to grow. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), we should see a 3% growth rate in goods hauled each year over the next five years.
  • Trucking rates are going up and will probably continue to do so, around 5, 6 or 7 percent, depending on whom you ask. This is in part due to issues such as the driver shortage, but it’s still a positive for the bottom line.
  • The number of trucks with ELDs should increase as those who didn’t meet the 2017 deadline get caught up before April’s enforcement kicks in. (Admittedly, this could be a “bad” increase depending on your point of view!)

And some numbers are going up for all the wrong reasons
Quite a few other numbers are going up in 2018, but these are the negative ones because an increase does not equal a positive, including:

A number that should go up…
There is one significant number that should go up, although we don’t see pundits predicting that it will (only that it should), and that number is the salaries paid to long-haul truckers. The industry has long known the pay is too low given the time these drivers must spend away from home, and that we will continue to struggle with a driver shortage until we can entice more people into the job. So on this number, we shall see!

Numbers we won’t see in 2018, but they are coming
In addition, there are other changes on the horizon that we know are coming but won’t be here in the coming year. One is the semi-autonomous vehicle. Self-driving trucks are on the way, but probably won’t hit American highways until after 2018 is over. The other is the increase in electronic trucks, which are growing in popularity in Europe, but probably won’t be commonplace in the U.S. any time soon.

Numbers go up and numbers go down, and sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad, but one thing stays the same: Our commitment to keeping your fleet clean, no matter what the truckloads, diesel prices or ELD penalties do!

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