Truckload rate increases haven’t materialized as anticipated, Perry said, because the industry achieved productivity gains last year, which enabled companies to absorb additional freight without adding equipment and drivers. That period has passed and the market has tightened.
“We expect the rest of the year to have relatively strong truck shortages to include price increases,” he said. Perry predicted that prices will continue to rise through next year and into 2013 even as trucking capacity catches up with demand.
Perry noted that truck tonnage will average 5 percent growth this year through 2013.
Current strong new truck orders will primarily replace aging equipment but not add to capacity, Perry said. However, he said if his forecast of higher rates is accurate, he anticipates a “considerable expansion by the industry in 2012 and 2013.”
On another question, the FTR economist said he hadn’t factored in proposed weight-limit increases in calculating productivity gains. But, he said, if allowed weights are increased to 97,000 pounds, it would wipe out the driver shortage he’s attributing to regulatory restrictions.
“Size and weight is a big deal, and has major productivity implications,” he said.
— Max Kvidera
CSA pays more attention to drivers
While the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is putting more emphasis on commercial driver behaviors than past safety programs, CSA isn’t designed to score drivers, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration official said in a March 22 online seminar.
“I can’t emphasize enough that under CSA, we are not rating individual drivers,” said Bryan Price, FMCSA senior transportation specialist, during the webinar presented by Overdrive and Truckers News.
Price said the agency is employing driver safety performance as an internal tool used by FMCSA investigators in deciding which drivers to examine in assessing carrier compliance ratings. The driver safety measurement information isn’t available to roadside inspectors or to carriers. He acknowledged that private companies are using driver information to produce CSA scorecards that aren’t “endorsed or created by FMCSA.”
Price said another new program, the Pre-Employment Screening Program, was developed by FMCSA at about the same time as the driver Safety Measurement System in CSA. PSP isn’t part of CSA but was lobbied for by carriers and mandated by Congress to provide an avenue for prospective employers to a driver’s inspection and crash records. Under PSP, drivers aren’t rated or scored and must sign authorization to release the information to a carrier to review.
In addressing frequently asked questions, Colorado State Patrol Major Mark Savage said CSA doesn’t give FMCSA the authority to revoke CDLs and put drivers out of work.
Savage also said that tickets and warnings drivers receive while operating their personal vehicles don’t impact their carrier’s or their own Safety Measurement System ranking. Only violations documented on commercial vehicle inspection reports will be used in the driver’s SMS and count toward the carrier’s SMS record, he said. “This entire program is dependent on our roadside inspection data,” he said.
— Max Kvidera
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