Diesel costs dampened trucking conditions in December

Rising diesel prices dampened trucking conditions in December, even as other measures were in the trucking industry’s favor, FTR reports. The analysts’ Trucking Conditions Index – which measures changes in freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel prices, and financing — fell to 8.51 from the 10.46 recorded in November. A positive score represents optimistic conditions.

Index measures relating to freight demand, rates, and capacity utilization all edged higher during the month, but those relating to fuel costs saw the largest negative change in more than three years.

 “Although the broader economy hit some soft spots as 2020 closed, freight demand remains robust. Even if freight demand were to stall, though, unusual constraints on the supply of drivers likely will prolong tight capacity,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice-president – trucking. “We expect a noticeable loosening as the pandemic fades and millions of Americans rejoin the labor pool.

However, pandemic-related constraints on training and licensing of new commercial drivers have limited the driver pool and will impede a rapid return of capacity.

Also, the drug and alcohol clearinghouse already has removed more than 45,000 drivers, and that number rises each day.”

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