Disciplined management of capacity and pricing, coupled with falling fuel prices, meant better times for trucking companies in September, FTR Associates said.
The consulting firm’s Trucking Conditions Index jumped 3.1 points in September to a reading of 9.2, still below the index’s recent peak of 13.3 in March this year. Any reading above 10 indicates freight volume, rates and profit margin are in a good range for truckers, according to Nashville, Ind.-based FTR Associates.
The flip side of the improvement in the trucking index is that shippers may have had to dig a bit deeper to find adequate capacity at an acceptable price in September.
The prospect of tighter hours of service regulations for drivers, a proposal opposed by motor carriers, could push the trucking index higher, the consulting firm said. Senior Consultant Larry Gross warned that if the Department of Transportation successfully tightens hours of service, the index could shoot up next year.
Tighter hours of service would raise trucking costs, requiring carriers to hire more drivers and field more equipment, and push up shipping rates, carriers warn. Even without tighter HOS rules, “The current muted economic growth, if continued, should be enough to allow the TCI to continue to increase slowly,” said Gross.