Overall, trucking companies had good news for their truckload profits as the first quarter of 2013 tallied up. ATA’s Truck Tonnage Index saw a 3.9 percent growth when compared to the same time period of 2012. However, the Cass Freight Index showed a lower growth on their calculations.
Part of the reason for strong profits in this industry is the adherence to strong discipline with assets. This is spurred on by a continuing lack of qualified drivers, which results in a slower growth, but allows carriers to maintain power when it comes to setting their prices, optimizing their networks, and building their base of customers.
Overall, carrier revenues rose 5.5 percent in quarter one from the same period of time in 2011. This percentage does include full service revenues. Costs for diesel fuel and surcharges remained quite flat for this quarter. On average, carriers paid $4.02 on-the-road for diesel fuel. This is just 1 percent higher than the $3.97 they averaged paying for the same time period during 2012.
Totaling and comparing the revenue among carriers is difficult, because they handle non-core truckload carriage, such as intermodal, dedicated, 3PL, and brokerage, differently. They also operate different percentages of these segments. The shortage of qualified drivers is an ongoing issue within the trucking industry. Stricter regulations for long haul truck drivers, tighter border control, and demands from insurance companies have forced many licensed drivers off the road.
While trucking schools see record numbers of students completing their course work and receiving CDL’s, many of these graduates never see work with a trucking company. The primary reasons are a poor driving record, a past criminal record, or the lack of willingness to put in the training necessary to be approved for over the road driving by the carrier’s insurance company.