Trucking bankruptcies fell 18.5 percent from a year ago in the third quarter to 330 closings, taking 10,685 trucks out of the market, according to Avondale Partners.
The number of bankruptcies declined over the first nine months of 2010, the investment research firm said, but each quarter failures cut deeper into capacity.
The third quarter saw the fewest trucking failures in the last 10 quarters, far fewer than the 785 carriers that shut down in the same period in 2008.
Avondale estimates 55,405 trucks were pulled from the road through bankruptcies in the first three quarters of the year -- 21,745 of them in the first quarter.
In that period, creditors that had been relatively lenient in 2009 forced many carriers into foreclosure and seized assets, Avondale said in a note to investors.
Those creditors backed off as higher freight demand, tighter capacity and rising rates improved trucking's profitability in the second and third quarters.
However, few companies are adding capacity, Avondale said, estimating company failures reduced capacity 13 percent from 2008 through the second quarter.
As surviving carriers are reducing their fleets, not adding trucks, the net truckload capacity reduction in that period hit 16 percent, according to Avondale.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.