After 2013 was named the Year of the Network in the freight transportation field, what will 2014 be?
Some of the biggest trends we saw this year include a focus on technology in freight transportation, new FMCSA regulations in a few areas, and less small freight brokers in business.
Keeping in mind that trucking remains the leading mode of freight transportation in the U.S., it’s interesting to see what the next year promises for this industry.
Check out these 5 major trends below to learn more about the future of trucking in 2014.
Stronger economy = more loads
Nobody holds illusions about skyrocketing economic growth, but still, some growth, even slow, is better than none. As the economic situation has stabilized and the general outlook is positive, this certainly translates to the trucking industry as well. The direct consequence will be, quite simply, more loads and more work in the field. Slowly and gradually, the business is getting back to normal in respect of the workload.
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the truckload volumes will grow by 3.2% and the less-than-truckload volumes – by 3.5%. As usual, trucking tonnage will vary throughout the seasons.
Smaller loads and better packaging
Although great practical solutions, streamlined packaging options are leading to reduced truckload size. This, in turn, means less work for the industry in the long run, which has to be compensated with more goods to be transported.
Another seemingly irrelevant trend is the miniaturization of many consumer goods such as technology and electronics. More and more tablets and smartphones are sold instead of stationary personal computers, for example. The difference in size is considerable, which leads to smaller loads. Such changes will inevitably influence the trucking business as well.
20% of all fuel consumed in the U.S. is used by heavy duty trucks. Lower crude oil prices are expected in 2014, which is generally good news for trucking. Still, the industry is looking at cheaper and cleaner fuel alternatives.
More and more companies are moving to natural gas, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly. A foreseeable trend will be more truck stops with options for natural gas loading.
Drivers needed… desperately
The lack of experienced truck drivers has been an ongoing problem for the industry. Undoubtedly a tough and isolating profession, trucking companies had difficulty adding employees in 2013. While federal hours-of-service regulation in 2010 has attracted some to the job, predictions for new drivers in 2014 is not expected to keep up with need. Additionally, the stricter FMCSA regulations put many boundaries on the pool of potential drivers.
Costs associated with hiring more drivers can have an impact on consumer goods prices, since 80% of all goods in the U.S. are transported by trucks.
The freight broker field is changing
One of many FMCSA regulations that is changing the freight broker world is the new freight broker bond requirement. The bond was increased from $10,000 to $75,000 effective October 1, with a 2-month grace period for enforcement. The result has been a drastic reduction of freight brokers due to revocation of licenses.
The surety bond is a requirement for obtaining and maintaining a license as a freight broker. It acts as a guarantee for broker compliance with relevant regulations for operation.
Due to the bond increase, many brokers did not manage to renew their licenses and have had to leave the business. If you still need to get bonded, JW Surety Bonds is able to approve most applicants at the most competitive rates in the industry.