Trucking Capacity in the U.S.

 In Industry Insider, Trans-Border Global Freight Systems, Inc.

As we start the new year, we are faced with several issues that are causing the commercial truck capacity to tighten.  The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate became a requirement on December 18th, 2017.  This new regulation monitors the hours a driver spends behind the wheel of their truck and restricts the number of hours they can drive in a day.  The electronic logs are meant to replace paper logs.  In addition to the ELD mandate, the trucking industry is plagued with a driver shortage issue.  The industry is experiencing a diminishing driver workforce and is failing to recruit new drivers as older drivers are leaving the industry or retiring.  The two above issues, among several other seasonal issues, are causing an extreme shortage of truck availability in the spot rate market.

What does this mean to you?  A couple things. 

  1. The rates in the industry as a whole, are going increase.  More demand + less capacity = higher rates.
  2. The transit times will also be longer – it’s much easier to “amend” a paper log as opposed to an electronic log equipped with GPS.  Shipments that in the past took one day to deliver now might take two days to deliver.
  3. Less availability.  It will become harder to locate available equipment for shipments at affordable prices, as most available trucks will want to be paid a premium to haul freight.
  4. Waiting time will now be more strictly enforced.  Time spent at docks waiting to be loaded and unloaded will now affect how far a driver can make it before having to pull off the road and wait for their hours of service to reset.

The new regulations are complicated, but here are two examples:

  1. Billy ships a truckload of silly string to Sugar Ridge, IN from his Albany, NY facility every Monday.  It’s about 600 miles so, typically, the driver (Charlie) would load at 6 am, and be on his way for a Tuesday, 6 am delivery.  Despite a little bit of traffic and a little longer loading time, Charlie arrives into Sugar Ridge, IN at the consignee’s location and sleeps until his 6 am delivery.  In the ELD mandate era, Billy loaded up Charlie’s truck and it took him 3 hours to load.  Charlie now has 10 hrs left to get to Sugar Ridge, IN.  He then ran into some bad weather in Erie, PA.  Instead of making it to Sugar Ridge, IN that night…Charlie made it to Cleveland at 7 pm and had to pull over and rest as he is required by law, to rest for 10 hours before driving again.  This means that he cannot start driving again until 5 am and is still 3 hours out.  He will have missed his appointment window and will now have to wait to be unloaded.  (Again accruing driving hours).
  2. This is also relevant for container shipments.  If Elaine our driver has a load tomorrow in Burlington, VT – she will head into the pier to pull a container at 3 pm.  She then has to wait in line for 4 hours to pull the container.  Now, Elaine has already been driving that day and she is at her maximum amount of hours.  It’s 7 pm and she must rest for 10 hours before heading up to Burlington, VT which is about a 7-hour drive from Newark, NJ.  She cannot start driving until 5 am at which point, she is still 7 hours out from her destination.

Safety is our utmost concern and is the basis for this new regulation.  As with all change, we will continue to monitor the industry situation and do our best to provide the rates and customer service that our customers have come to expect from Trans-Border.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 800-493-9444 or at one of the below e-mails:

Dustin Loughan
Domestic Pricing & Distribution Manager

Jonathan Schwartz
Domestic Operations Manager