Yesterday, the trucking industry received a much-needed jolt to kick off 2020. The United States and China signed a trade agreement that is expected to create a boost in U.S. manufacturing and an increase in the number of exported American goods. While this deal will not completely mend the transportation industry after a historically turbulent 2019, it does provide a solid base from where negotiations can continue. Vice Premier Liu He filled in for Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the meeting, reading a letter to President Trump from Jinping stating, “the first phase is good for China, the U.S. and the whole world.”
In today’s world everyone seems to be connected to the internet. Even the nations over the road truck drivers can stay connected when they are on the road several states away from their home base. Smart phones, tablets, and on-board computers keep today's drivers constantly connected to the office and dispatchers. Almost all major truck stops offer free Wi-Fi for their customers inside travel centers. Truck stops will charge an additional fee if the driver prefers Wi-Fi access in their truck while resting. Either in the travel center store or inside the truck, instant communication is a reality in today’s over the road transportation industry.
In September, demand for freight continued to remain strong. However a combination of tighter capacity and fuel price increases were causes for higher spot market rates. Refrigeration and flatbed freight dropped from August to September according to DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index. The index reflects changes in the actual number of spot market loads moved each month.
Over time, the transportation industry has seen many new regulations passed for various reasons. From electronic log books, lower emission trucks, and increasing the age to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) these laws were intended to improve the safety of the public as well as protect the environment. The increased tighter regulations have forced companies into compliance resulting in a tougher trucking market. It does not seem that the flow of regulatory actions have ceased, and now there are multiple bills in congress that have drawn public attention.
Plans to build charging stations across the country are being crushed by groups backed by industry giants like Exxon Mobil and Koch Empire. According to utility commission filings, these groups have challenged electric companies’ across the United States. Electric utilities are seeking approval on building charging networks in locations such as shopping centers and rest stops across the nation. Whereas the petroleum sector, represented by multiple trade associations and industry-funded political groups, and consumer advocates say they should not have to pay for these services. Stating, their customers will have to pay for the investments helping utilities “pad” their balance sheets. Fossil fuel interests control about 90 percent of the transportation fuel market in the U.S. but are feeling more and more pressure from the electric wave.