Experts tend to agree that 2015 has already been and will continue to be positive for the trucking industry. Lower fuel prices and increased consumer confidence have increased demand for trucking. However, industry trends are not all positive: increased regulation and driver shortages will have a major impact in 2015 and beyond.
Trends That Will Shape Trucking In 2015
1. Increased Regulation. Most experts predict that the trucking industry will face increasing scrutiny from the FMCSA in an attempt to make the roads safer. The electronic log mandate will start to have an impact, with companies that are still using paper logs likely seeing more penalties for violations. Trucking companies will continue to look for ways to remain profitable as hours-of-service rules mean fewer hours on the road.
2. Worsening Driver Shortages. While many trucking companies are refining their recruiting techniques in an attempt to hire younger drivers, most industry insiders say that there is no easy solution to the problem of driver shortages. Forecasts suggest that the shortage (now around 30,000) will increase to 200,000 in the next ten years.
3. Fuel Remains Cheap. Fuel is expected to remain at a low cost in 2015. While this might initially seem like a boost for the trucking industry, the savings will likely not be passed along to drivers. Instead, cheaper fuel will mean a more robust economy, which will put more of a demand on a trucking industry already struggling with driver shortages and tightening safety regulations.
4. More Data, More Optimization. New transportation management technology combined with increased use of electronic logs will give carriers more access to data. How they choose to use this information remains to be seen, but there is potential for them to use it to increase efficiency and provide quicker responses to shippers.
5. Intermodal Transportation Will Increase. Driver shortages and increased consumer demand are expected to contribute to an increase in intermodal transportation. Shippers will expect more flexibility from carriers to integrate into intermodal solutions. Railroad in particular is expected to start capturing more truck traffic.