FTR lookback: Trucking conditions index on steady March downward

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, May 22, 2023:

Trucking conditions fell again in March

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for March reflected persistently unfavorable conditions for carriers, with a decrease to a reading of -5.83 for the month from -5.17 in February.

Lower fuel costs and slightly stronger utilization partially offset a more negative rate environment as spot rates continued to deteriorate. Financing costs were also still a challenge in March.

Market conditions are expected to remain at least modestly unfavorable for trucking companies into 2024, FTR said.

“The data that drives our forecasting model still suggests that market conditions for trucking companies are at or near bottom, but the recovery looks fairly shallow -- certainly compared to recent markets,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “We have yet to see clear indications that enough drivers are exiting the market to set the stage for a capacity-driven rebound.”

Vise added that even though “many very small carriers are failing, so far larger carriers have absorbed that driver capacity,” adding that freight demand is “just strong enough to keep most drivers employed, but not strong enough to keep them fully utilized.”

[Related: Diesel's national average tumbles below $4/gal]

Four days of Memorial Day radio programming on tap

One of trucking's most popular radio programs is planning a special series of Memorial Day presentations this upcoming weekend.

May 26-29 Radio Nemo of North America will feature an entire weekend of programming dedicated to the holiday. The Dave Nemo Show and Dave Nemo Weekends on SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel 146 have assembled a lineup of guests to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

“The true meaning of Memorial Day can get lost in the three-day weekend," said Nemo. "So we are honoring those fallen heroes throughout the four days. I agree with the late Sen. Daniel Inouye that this should be the one national day that stands on its own as a solemn reflection on the cost of saving American democracy.”

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The shows will be produced in conjunction with Fastport, whose “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award nomination process concludes at the end of June. It is a diverse lineup that includes veterans, executives, authors and members of the transportation industry. The guests will discuss the meaning of the holiday, the events that surround it, and the opportunities it presents. 

The special holiday programming begins Friday, May 26 at 9 a.m. on The Dave Nemo Show as author Craig Nelson discusses his new history, V is for Victory: Franklin Roosevelt's American Revolution and the Triumph of World War II. The author will discuss with host Jimmy Mac the story of FDR's "great debate" with aviator Charles Lindbergh over America's isolation on the eve of Pearl Harbor. 

[Related: Faces of the Road: Dave Nemo on history at 50 years in trucking radio]

Saturday's Dave Nemo Weekends will have co-hosts Jimmy Mac and Lindsay Lawler welcoming a collection of guests who have made careers dedicated to honoring the dead by serving the living. 

Saturday, May 27 starts at 7 a.m. with the arrival of Wreaths Across America's Executive Director Karen Worcester talking with Mac and Lawler about her organization's commitment to not only its annual event at Arlington National Cemetery but its continued commitment to Gold Star Families. Retired Colonel Adam Rocke stops by at 8 a.m. to tell listeners about not only his career of creating civilian networks for service members but also his own personal memories of his tour of duty. At 9 a.m., the show welcomes veteran Sarah Lee, whose personal struggles resulted in the creation of Waypoint Vets, an organization dedicated to facilitating adventure to help veterans in their personal recoveries.

Sunday, May 28 is a mix of the holiday's meaning in the past, present, and future. Author Justin Martin will be on air at 7 a.m. to examine his works A Fierce Glory: Antietam and Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians.  At 8 am., CEO of Sierra Delta BJ Ganem will talk about his non-profit along with his participation as captain of the Wounded Warrior Football Team. Sunday will conclude with Fastport President Brad Bentley explaining his organization's mission to veterans and the details around the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award.

On Monday, May 29, Memorial Day, Mac joins Nemo on The Dave Nemo Show as they welcome veterans and those dedicated to their assistance. At 7 a.m., Commander Daniel O'Hara discusses his career as a pilot with Top Gun instruction and over 5,100 flight hours with 700 carrier arrested landings. He will be followed at 8 a.m. by a special edition of The Recruiters Round Table as KL Breeden and Sons discuss the company's special programs for veterans. Memorial Day's concluding hour will feature veteran Beau Higgins sharing a story of courage, sacrifice, and loss, followed by restaurateur Bruce McDonald sharing his passion project: the Remembered Light exhibit. 

[Related: Faces of the Road: Betting on the 'highest common denominator' with Road Dog's Jimmy Mac]

Driver named Highway Angel for helping trapped crash victim

Chicory Calhoun, a truck driver from York, Pennsylvania, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for stopping to help a trapped crash victim whose car rolled into a ditch. Calhoun works for ABF Freight out of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Chicory CalhounChicory CalhounOn Jan. 31, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Calhoun was on his way into work around 11 a.m. on I-81 South. As he was driving in his personal vehicle, he saw debris fly up in front of him.

“I see debris -- car parts flying in the left lane, the fast lane,” Calhoun said. As he slowed down, he saw a white car cross over several lanes and crash into a ditch on the side of the road, rolling over twice. Calhoun immediately pulled over and called 911.

“I grabbed my (safety) vest,” he said, as he ran to the crashed vehicle to check on the victim. Other motorists who stopped wanted to pull the female occupant out of the crashed car, but Calhoun noted the car was on a precarious edge and any slight movement of the vehicle could tip it over more and cause injury.

“It looked like it was gonna tilt back the other way,” he said. “I said, 'let’s not try to take her out -- her weight might tilt it over.'”

Calhoun, along with other motorists, stayed there and held the car in position until firefighters arrived to secure the vehicle in place for EMTs to tend to the crash victim.

“She had a bruise around her neck, I’m assuming from the seat belt,” he said. “I was talking to her; she was saying she had just gotten blood work drawn and she blacked out.”

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