FTR Associates’ Trucking Conditions Index for August, published in the October 2013 Trucking Update, rose to a reading of 9.52, a full point improvement from the July reading.
The gain, which indicates a continuing positive environment for truckers, moves the index to an expected peak this fall before conditions deteriorate, as the industry absorbs the impact of the hours of service rule changes that took effect on July 1.
“Prior to the government shutdown on Oct. 1, economic and industry data was pointing to a possible uptick in demand as we head into the final stretch of 2013,” said Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis for FTR, in a written statement. “The length of the shutdown and the outcome of the debt ceiling fight will play a big part in deciding if that acceleration is realized.”
“We continue to expect a resolution to both issues prior to the debt ceiling being reached on Oct. 17; however, the longer this plays out the more difficult it becomes to see a solid agreement taking shape,” he continued. “While the shutdown is a tough pill to swallow in a slow-growth economy, the effects of not raising the debt ceiling would be much more dramatic and devastating.”
FTR predicted that conditions for truck fleets will stabilize in 2014, at least until more information is available about Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulatory intentions for 2015. Manufacturing, an important driver of trucking activity, is expected to increase at a pace “slightly above trend” in 2014, although that will not necessarily be enough to justify growth in motor carriers’ fleets, said Noel Perry, a senior consultant with FTR and principal of Transport Fundamentals, at the 2013 FTR Transportation Conference in Indianapolis.