Trucking conditions: A big improvement in late Fall, but 2024 outlook bleak

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Jan. 19, 2024:

Fuel drives November improvement in carrier conditions

FTR Trucking Conditions Index November 2023Falling diesel prices through much of the end of 2023 led to an improvement in market conditions for carriers in the fall.FTRFTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for November improved to a reading of -1.35 from the previous month’s -6.07.

The gain resulted primarily from a sharp drop in fuel prices, FTR said, but all key factors contributing to the index were more favorable for carriers in November. The outlook remains modestly negative through late 2024, however.

“Unfortunately for carriers, November’s market conditions likely were the least unfavorable that they will be through at least the first half of this year barring another sustained slide in diesel prices,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “However, as we have noted frequently, lower fuel costs are complicated. Falling diesel prices tend to slow exits of very small carriers, which could further depress capacity utilization and deflate any upward pressure on rates.”

Vise added that freight demand doesn’t appear to be improving in the near future.

“Trucking should see incremental improvement throughout 2024 but not enough to create any real inflection in the market,” he said.

[Related: They said he'd fail, but he proved them wrong: Overdrive Trucker of the Year Jay Hosty]

Love’s completes rollout of Freightliner ExpressPoint repair service

Drivers of Freightliner trucks can now utilize Love’s Travel Stops’ maintenance network with increased support and convenience for light mechanical repairs. Love’s and Daimler Trucks North America on Thursday announced the rollout of Freightliner ExpressPoint at more than 400 Love’s Truck Care and Speedco locations, with additional location openings planned.

“We are excited to have Love’s Freightliner ExpressPoint network fully online, less than a year after announcing our partnership with DTNA," said Eric Daniels, vice president of total truck care for Love's. "Love's Truck Care and Speedco technicians have received comprehensive training from their local Freightliner dealer to provide quality customer service, maximizing uptime for the drivers who keep America running."

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Through Freightliner ExpressPoint, participating Love's locations will provide light mechanical warranty repair work, roadside warranty emergency services and approved field service and recall campaigns for Freightliner trucks. Warranty repair services include HVAC, fuel systems, external engine components, brakes and suspension, among other services.

"We show full commitment to our customers’ uptime by expanding select service offerings with more than 400 Love’s Truck Care and Speedco locations to Freightliner customers," said Paul Romanaggi, chief customer experience officer and general manager of service for DTNA. “The strategic partnership with Love’s and our robust Freightliner Service network charts a course that ensures reliability and efficiency to increase customer profitability keeping their trucks running.” 

Love’s locations work directly with their local Freightliner dealer to provide parts availability, quality repair work, and easy warranty claim filing to help Freightliner customers get back on the road quickly.

Truckstop enhances security in RMIS broker-contract system

The Truckstop load board and related companies announced implementation of enhanced security measures intended to help brokers keep bad actors out of their networks via the RMIS system. RMIS helps brokers "onboard carriers with speed, confidence and precision," said Truckstop, and security enhancements, including ID verification measures, should bolster all three of those qualities.  

“Our broker customers require a platform that streamlines their onboarding and compliance workflows by leveraging secure and trusted carrier networks, enabling them to make fast, informed decisions,” said Julia Laurin, Truckstop chief product officer.

New security protocols include:

  • Identity verification of carriers onboarding with brokers via RMIS. This involves comparing the trucker’s government-issued ID with a real-time photograph. Carriers will only be required to undergo this process annually or when their government-issued ID expires.
  • Enhanced multi-factor authentication (MFA) aims to detect potentially compromised credentials and provide smooth access across both the Truckstop and RMIS platforms. MFA is a security protocol that mandates users to present two or more distinct authentication factors to confirm their identity before gaining access to a system, application or account.

[Related: The third parties following you around freight networks: Brokers looking more like carriers with 'data-driven' decision-making]

C.H. Robinson expands carrier scholarship program

Global logistics provider C.H. Robinson is expanding its support for the truck driving community and the more than 450,000 contract carriers on the company’s platform, the company announced Thursday.

The C.H. Robinson Foundation is offering 25 scholarships and, new in 2024, will double its annual individual scholarship award from $2,500 to $5,000 each for a total of $125,000. Applications will be accepted Jan. 18 through Feb. 28. 

Now in its 12th year, the global Contract Carrier Scholarship is open to employees or dependents of contract carriers that have been a C.H. Robinson carrier for a minimum of one year as of Feb. 28. Scholarships can be used at accredited college institutions across the globe to support tuition for undergraduate and vocational-technical education for the 2024-'25 academic year.  

Applicants must also:  

  • Be age 16 to 26 or regular, full-time employees of the qualified carrier.  
  • Be high-school seniors, high-school graduates, or current post-secondary undergraduates. Students outside the United States must be in their final year of upper or higher secondary school or be current technical or university-level students.  
  • Enroll in full-time study if they’re a dependent, but can enroll in part-time study if they are employees of qualified carriers. 

Since 2013, the C.H. Robinson Foundation has awarded 340 scholarships totaling $850,000. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, work experience, and educational and career goals and objectives. Scholarship America, a neutral third party, manages the award selection process.