2013 Annual Review & Outlook - Trucking

The dominant mode of freight transportation in the United States, trucking enjoyed its best year in 2012 since the Great Recession of 2008-09. Long-haul truckload and regional less-than-truckload carriers found a balance in supply and demand, and many gave up their past practice of chasing unprofitable freight. Rates responded by rising early in the year, and carriers were able to sustain them into the fall, producing profits not seen since the mid-2000s. Perhaps no company illustrated carriers' success more than YRC Worldwide, which went from the brink of bankruptcy in 2011 to profitability in the third quarter, barely a year after James Welch took over as chairman and CEO. 

But the industry faces several challenges in 2013 to sustain the growth, not the least of which is federal regulations such as new hours-of-service rules that, if implemented, could create new capacity strains on the industry. As capacity tightens and companies look to build on their sustainability initiatives, more shippers are turning to intermodal rail in traditional trucking lanes. And, of course, if the economy grows more rapidly than expected, the truck driver shortage that in many cases has had a marginal impact on shippers could become a significant problem for an industry looking to sustain a rally.

Index of all Annual Review & Outlook comments, alphabetical by company

big rig
30 Jan 2013
A looming driver shortage, rate increases and equipment dislocations are the main challenges that cargo interests will encounter over the next two years as the U.S. economic recovery continues, transportation experts told a Journal of Commerce Webcast Tuesday.
24 Jan 2013
The trucking industry may be rolling toward a "pricing renaissance" of its own, as rising operating costs and tight capacity push truck rates higher.
Top trucking stories of 2013 - part 1.
24 Jan 2013
JOC Senior Editor William B. Cassidy identifies the top trucking stories for 2013.
Top trucking stories of 2013 - part two.
24 Jan 2013
JOC Senior Editor William B. Cassidy identifies the top trucking stories for 2013.
17 Jan 2013
Truckers who were “cautiously optimistic” in 2012 are increasingly pessimistic about their business outlook for 2013.


James Welch knows a thing or two about business. So when the CEO of trucking operator YRC Worldwide and architect of the largest corporate turnaround in recent memory delivers a message like he did recently to his staff, shippers and carriers of all types should take notice.