The only thing constant in truck driving (besides the miles)is change. Truckers see their line of work influenced by economicfactors, regulatory controls, industry progress, and many other factors. Thisis why it is so important for carriers to keep an eye on things and understandhow their industry is shaping up.2017 was a better year for trucking than 2016.
Will thattrend continue? Drivers and trucking managers may be excited to hear that 2018could be just as productive, if not more so, for their industry. Improved demand among receivers, first-time technologicalbreakthroughs, reworked tax rates, and pending infrastructure improvementscould all impact trucking in the coming year. The AmericanTrucking Associations’ projections can provide a glimpse into the comingmonths. Both truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight volume is expectedto rise by 3.4 percent, and the gain is expected to stay at that level for thenext several years. While there are plenty of opportunities to be had in thecoming year, there are also important risks to plan for as well.
Fuel pricescontinue to increase, making it another year where carriers will have to budgetthis expense carefully. While there are rumors about electric trucks emergingto break the industry’s dependence on diesel, this won’t be accomplished intime for carriers to avoid high fuel costs in the coming year.Another problem that carriers must stay on top of during theyear is the driver shortage. Carriers still can’t retain the level of talentthey need, putting them in a tough spot as demand continues to grow in contrastto shrinking rosters. Thedriver shortage is expected to grow worse as freight demand increases,creating a situation where carriers will either be forced to invest in new waysof brining in talent or perhaps looking to make a portion of their fleetdriverless.
But, like electric trucks, driverless trucks are expected to changethe industry in a big way in the future – but they won’t be around in time for2018, at least not in large enough numbers to help mitigate the shortage. Carriers that have prepared for the regulatory changes andincreased demand this year will have an opportunity to enjoy great success. Butall carriers, regardless of their side, must be aware of the prospectivechallenges the year presents to the trucking industry.