Tonnage hauled by trucks fell in 2023

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024:

Truck tonnage fell 1.7% in 2023

ATA Truck Tonnage Index December 2023ATA's seasonally-adjusted Truck Tonnage Index showed a 2.1% increase in freight hauled in December, but tonnage was down annually 1.7% from 2022.ATA

While it may come as no surprise to many owner-operators and small fleets who lived it through the last year, the calculators have made it official: Trucks hauled less freight in 2023 than in 2022, according to the American Trucking Associations’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.

The seasonally-adjusted index showed a 2.1% increase in tonnage hauled in December over November, with the index reading 115.7 compared to 113.3 in November. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello noted, however, that tonnage remained in a recession for the year despite the stronger finish.

“For-hire contract freight, which is what comprises our index, in December was 2.6% above the trough in April,” Costello said. “For the entire year, tonnage contracted 1.7% from 2022 levels. This makes 2023 the worst annual reading since 2020 when the index fell 4% from 2019, and the only year since 2020 that tonnage contracted."

Compared with December 2022, the index fell 0.5%, which was the 10th straight year-over-year decrease, albeit the smallest over that period. In November, the index was down 1.6% from a year earlier.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets, equaled 110.7 in December, 1.9% below the November's level (112.8). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA's For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

[Related: Last week's spot-rates surge, courtesy of Old Man Winter]

New TA Express opens in Arizona

TravelCenters of America is continuing to expand its network of travel centers with the opening of a TA Express in Littlefield, Arizona.

The new TA Express is a franchised site and offers fueling, convenience items, three quick-service dining options, and other services for professional drivers and motorists. The store is located at 3224 East Rincon Road, off I-15.

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The new location features 210 truck parking spaces; KFC, Del Taco and Sbarro restaurants; nine diesel lanes with DEF; nine showers and more.

Trio of drivers named Highway Angels for helping elderly crash victim

The Truckload Carriers Association in December named three truck drivers Highway Angels for stopping to rescue a 73-year-old woman whose car went over an embankment covered in snow.

Lacy Leonhart, Karl Riedner, and Valerie MillwoodLacy Leonhart, Karl Riedner, and Valerie MillwoodTCALacy Leonhart, from Springboro, Pennsylvania; Karl Riedner, from Rockwall, Texas; and Valerie Millwood, from Aragon, Georgia, drive for America’s Service Line out of Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

On Nov. 28. around 3 p.m., Leonhart was driving through McKean, Pennsylvania, on I-79 when she saw a spin-out wreck on the right side of a ramp, but noticed an elderly woman to the left side of the road, crawling out of the embankment covered in snow. 

“I saw the car facing the other way on the onramp, but there was another car down in the ravine with an older lady crawling on her hands and knees trying to climb up the hill,” Leonhart said.  

Leonhart shared what was happening on her CB radio, and fellow truckers from her company, Riedner and Millwood, pulled over to help as well.  

“We were on the CB talking,” Millwood said. “We didn’t see her [the crash victim] at first, so we all stopped and jumped out.”  

Another car with a couple pulled over, as well. Riedner managed to direct traffic, then Leonhart and the couple managed to pull the fragile woman out of the snow and get her back across the road to safety. All the truckers helped keep her warm and talked with the woman until the paramedics and emergency responders arrived. 

“We got her wrapped up in a blanket,” Millwood said. 

“To me, stopping was the right thing to do,” Leonhart said. “There was nobody there; nobody had seen her.”