April marked strongest month on record for carriers, analysts report

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, June 11, 2021:

Trucking conditions hit another record high for carriers in April

FTR's Trucking Conditions Index chart for April 2021FTR's Trucking Conditions Index continued to improve in April, surpassing the previous record high set in March.FTR

Following a record-setting month in March, FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for April hit another record-high of 16.82, surpassing March’s record of 16.27.

Although most market factors were not quite as strong in April as they were in March, a reversal of March’s higher diesel prices improved overall trucking conditions, FTR says.

The relief in fuel costs was short-lived, but FTR expects solid freight demand coupled with high-capacity utilization and robust freight rates to keep trucking conditions strong in the near term and at least in positive single digits well into 2022 and perhaps beyond.

“We have yet to see signs that the driver capacity situation is changing, and May’s weak payroll jobs data for trucking is one indication,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “Over the next few months, one potential constraint – generous unemployment benefits – will end. While those benefits likely contribute to the hiring challenge, we are skeptical that their demise will fundamentally change the dynamic. Given robust competition for labor – job openings in the economy are at an all-time high – trucking’s capacity challenge could linger longer than usual. One signal we are watching closely is the spot market. If rates and volumes begin to ease, that could indicate a balancing of freight demand and route guide capacity.”

FTR calculates its Trucking Conditions Index using five major conditions in the U.S. truck market – freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing.

Lighting manufacturer asks FMCSA to allow pulsating lights on all trucks
Truck light manufacturer Intellistop is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow carriers to install the company’s lighting module, which pulses the rear clearance, identification and brake lamps from a lower-level lighting intensity to a higher-level lighting intensity four times in two seconds.

Current regulations require all exterior lights to be steady-burning, except for turn signals, hazard warning lights, amber warning lights or flashing warning lights on tow trucks and oversized loads.

If granted, Intellistop’s waiver would allow carriers to install its module on all commercial motor vehicles, including flatbed trailers and straight trucks.

FMCSA is requesting public comment on the petition, which can be made at www.regualtions.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2021-0048 for 30 days beginning Monday, June 14.

Expediter Services' new 'Advantage' program and company division
Expediter Services' new Vendor Network Services division will be introducing a new ES Advantage Program, utilizing a vendor network built over 15 years serving expedited owner-operator and fleet-owner clients. With more than 10,000 members in the Expediter Services community writ large today, Advantage Program participants will have access to the ES fuel networks, with discounts at more than 1,100 locations nationwide, as well as shop discounts with below-market hourly repair rates. Preventive maintenance work and oil changes also are discounted at major truck stop chains, and per-tire savings of $135 off retail are achievable.  

The company notes it understands the importance of going beyond discount offerings to provide a comprehensive set of services. For the ES Advantage Program, members can also access insurance and legal services -- and more. For insurance, physical damage, non-trucking liability, occupational accident and workers’ compensation are available.The company notes it understands the importance of going beyond discount offerings to provide a comprehensive set of services. For the ES Advantage Program, members can also access insurance and legal services -- and more. For insurance, physical damage, non-trucking liability, occupational accident and workers’ compensation are available.National account pricing for toll management, prepaid legal services and online safety training are also accessible at reduced rates, the company said.    

The ES Advantage Team has established a website that provides details on the program and offers the opportunity to connect with ES to learn more about the ES Advantage. Find more information via this link to it, and hear a podcast talk about the program with participants via this link. 

New Love’s in Mississippi
Love’s Travel Stops opened a new location this week in Holly Springs, Mississippi, off of I-22.

The new store offers 46 truck parking spaces, an Arby’s restaurant to be opened later, seven diesel bays, five showers, laundry facilities and more.

The Holly Springs location is the 18th Love’s in Mississippi.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
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