Channel 19

Todd Dills

The Channel 19 counting method

| May 14, 2009

Local news outlets around the nation have been full of them lately, stories detailing the difficulties for drivers and owner-operators far and wide. You’ve seen some mentioned here (extended wait times between loads and the attendant difficulty keeping up with truck payments, operators shut out of ports), and the stories are remarkable to my mind for the operator persistence they evoke, despite their portrayal of our tough economic times.

The Associated Press just yesterday added something of a cap to the round of stories with a piece about broader economic forecasting as it relates to, yes, trucking. You don’t even really need to read it, I imagine, to get the gist (though here’s a link if you like): the more trucks are rolling, the better we’re doing. News doesn’t bode well for a recovery anytime soon, but some analysts suspect we may be hitting the bottom.

And so, a proposal: For haulers on regular or dedicated runs, I challenge you to count the number of tractor trailers you see going the opposite way on a particular 10-mile segment on a run you do regularly. Note the milemarkers, the number of trucks that pass, time of day and date and do it again when you roll that way next. Send the final results my way and I’ll publish them after you’ve gotten up to 10 or more runs over time. I’ll be doing the same on a stretch of interstate I regularly run. Call it the Channel 19 Counting Method of Real-Time Economic Analysis, perhaps?

After all the news of a still shrinking economy, talk of hitting the economic trough — the very bottom — has the notion of a turnaround rising to the surface. I suspect we’ll see growing numbers in our counting over time, and at the least, like a kid’s cow counting on a family road trip, it’ll be a good 10-min. respite from the radio news, for those who need it.

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