Yield growth among both truckload and LTL carriers was slower compared to a year ago, Bear Stearns reported.
Government Revises Long-Range Fuel Price Projections
The U.S. Department of Energy’s updated long-term forecast predicts crude oil prices more than $20 per barrel higher and gasoline prices more than 50 cents per gallon higher than its previous forecast a year ago. Lower diesel prices are expected in the next six years, however.
The preliminary Annual Energy Outlook 2006, published Dec. 12 by the Energy Information Administration, predicts that crude oil prices will fall from current levels to about $47 per barrel (in 2004 dollars) in 2014, then rise to $54 per barrel in 2025 and $57 per barrel in 2030. The reason: Demand is outpacing supply.
“There is now demand in China, Asia and India, and the demand there is growing,” said Denton Cinquegrana, markets editor for the Oil Price Information Service. “This should keep oil prices relatively high, but like any other market there are boom-and-bust cycles, and right now we are in the middle of a tremendous boom cycle.”
Chris Lee of ProMiles suggested a grain of salt may be order. “I am skeptical at best on long-range forecasts because they can be affected by so many unknown factors,” he said.
The DOE estimate may indeed be exaggerated, Cinquegrana said. Oil prices could drop if more supplies are found or new technologies are invented that make it easier to pull hard-to-reach oil out of the ground. Price increases, too, will make some hard-to-reach oil more profitable and more likely to be extracted.
“In the long run, all of these things will pull the price of oil down,” Cinquegrana said.
The Annual Energy Outlook 2006 also predicts greater crude oil production and an increased demand for ethanol and biodiesel.
Truck Fatality Rate Hits All-Time Low
The rate of fatal accidents involving large trucks fell to an all-time low in 2004.
The 2004 rate was 1.96 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That’s the lowest rate since the U.S. Department of Transportation began tracking it in 1975.
The fatality rate decreased despite an increase in the total number of vehicles on the road. The FHWA reports almost 6.3 million more registered cars and trucks in 2004 than in 2003.
“The numbers show a dramatic and continuing improvement in U.S. highway safety within the trucking industry and among our professional drivers,” said Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.
Rural Road Deaths More Likely to Involve Trucks
Fatalities are more likely on rural roads than urban roads, and rural fatalities are more likely to involve trucks, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.
The agency recently issued “Contrasting Rural and Urban Fatal Crashes: 1994-2003,” an update of a 1996 report.