FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for August, as reported in the October 2012 Trucking Update published October 1, rose 1.4 points from July to a reading of 5.8. The index has been in mildly positive territory, but without clear direction, since the economy weakened in early 2011. FTR expects trucking conditions to improve in 2013 because of modestly better economics and a strong increase in capacity utilization stemming from added constraints on trucking from federal regulations taking effect in mid-year 2013. The TCI is a compilation of factors affecting trucking companies. Any reading above zero indicates a positive environment for truckers. Readings above 10 signal that volumes, prices, and margins are in a solidly favorable range for trucking companies.
Jonathan Starks, Director of Transportation Analysis for FTR, comments, “Setting aside the inherent economic risks at the moment, we expect the rate environment to improve for fleets as capacity tightens in 2013 when more stringent Hours-of-Service rules go into effect. This will also have the effect of worsening the driver shortage, moving the situation from the currently 'tight-but-manageable' level towards a more acute shortage, similar to that experienced back in 2004, when the last major rule change went into effect. Importantly, truck fleets will also need to keep a keen eye on the economic environment heading into 2013 because a major downshift in growth would have major negative implications on margins just as the new tranche of HOS regulations go into effect.”