How Trucking Has Changed During the Past Decade

In recent years, there have been many positive changes in the trucking industry.  Global trucking practices and road transportation have changed dramatically, particularly in the United States. The increase in population and strong US economy have led to a higher demand for goods, which all have to be imported and/or transported across the country. Despite the general slowdown in the economy, the US trucking industry has not only survived but thrived over the last decade.

Trucking Industry Changes See an Increase in Trucking Companies

Currently there are over 500,000 independent trucking companies, mostly operating with six or less trucks. This growth in the number of trucking businesses is partly because manufacturers and businesses are now using for-hire carriers rather than in-house trucking fleets. This shows how trucking has changed and adapted to market demand.

Improvements in multimodal transportation, using a combination of air, rail and road transport, have also had a positive effect on trucking practices. Shipping containers of goods typically use several modes of transport, including overland trucking transportation, to reach their final destination faster and cheaper.

Trucking Industry Changes Through Technology

Technological innovations in trucking practices and highway transportation have also made trucking cheaper, more productive and faster over the past decade. Road safety has dramatically improved, with less highway fatalities, despite the increase in trucking traffic.

In 2015, pricing practices marked one of the most significant changes in the trucking industry by introducing a new system to calculate the size of shipments using static machines. The new static dimensional machines are perfect for modern global trucking shipments, that are lighter and packaged in boxes, and the accurate measurement of objects by these machines is yielding quick dividends for the trucking industry. Loads can now be filled to capacity for maximum returns using advanced technology to implement more efficient trucking practices.

How has Fuel Cost Fluctuation Impacted the Global Trucking Industry?

Crude oil prices have hugely affected global trucking industry prices, particularly over the past decade. By the end of 2014, crude oil prices had dropped by 50%, as Saudi oil companies drove prices down to deter oil sand producers and frackers from developing new businesses. While fuel costs remain low, the global trucking industry can enjoy lower carrier fuel costs, which improves profit and reduces the overall cost of goods.

Addressing Road Congestion Issues

Currently the US Highway network is made up of over 4 million miles of roads and highways and around 600,000 bridges. It goes without saying that good road maintenance is essential for an efficient national trucking industry. Delays and congestion not only cost billions of dollars in lost wages, they also waste fuel and cause air pollution, and these concerns continue to affect the US trucking industry.

Studies show that traffic congestion in urban areas more than doubled since 1982. However, proposed investment in roads predicts that congestion levels by 2025 will be much lower than in recent years.

Building on the improvements of the last decade, the proposed $98.1 billion budget request for 2017 should positively affect trucking industry changes in terms of better roads and improved safety. It includes $44 billion specifically earmarked for investment in highways and bridges, which is good news for the future of trucking.

Problems in the Trucking Industry

One of the main problems for the global trucking industry is the severe shortage of experienced drivers. In 2014, reports on truck driver shortage showed the US trucking industry needed 38,000 more drivers, and by 2015, this figure had increased to 48,000.

One of the main concerns for trucking companies is finding eligible candidates with suitable experience and driving history. This causes instability with a greater turnover of drivers among competitor trucking companies, lured by better contracts or newer vehicles.

The past decade has highlighted many positive changes in the trucking industry, thanks to investment in terms of technology, improved safety and better infrastructure. Going forward, tighter government regulations, necessary upgrades to trucking fleets and replacing retiring drivers need to be addressed to build on past successes and improved trucking industry changes.

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