The American Trucking Associations seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.9 percent in February after rising 3.5 percent in January.
The key measure of trucking activity in the U.S. dropped in February, as winter storms disrupted or slowed freight distribution in many areas of the country.
Freight volumes remained high compared with the previous year, however, allaying fears that the dip could herald a drop in shipping or industrial activity.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents actual tonnage hauled by fleets, fell 2.8 percent in February from the previous month, the ATA said.
Truck tonnage rose 5.7 percent last year compared with 2009, helping tonnage to recovery from an 8.7 percent plunge in 2009, according to the ATA.
Year-over-year, the index was still 4.6 percent higher last month than a year ago. Tonnage was up 5.9 percent year-over-year for the first two months of 2010.
"Tonnage is not going to increase every month, and in general I'm very pleased with freight volumes early this year," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.
"I'm hearing a significant amount of positive news from fleets and that the largest concern continues to be the price of diesel fuel, not freight levels," he said.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.