According to the American Trucking Association, trucks moves more than 70% of goods. However, despite the growth of the economy in the past few years, the slowing of the economy in 2008 cut into the trucking industry. Higher fuel costs and stiffer competition make it harder for trucking companies to stay in business and for truckers to make a living.
With hiring slowdowns and a high unemployment rate, more people drive trucks for a living. If shipping stays static or slows down, this brings greater competition for loads. Increased competition can drive down hauling costs because truckers and companies have to bid a lower price to get the load. An influx of new drivers also results in more stringent regulations to remove incompetent drivers or unsafe trucks from the road. Most truckers are independent contractors in competition with other drivers in the same company.
Other than the cost of the truck, fuel is the biggest expense for truck drivers. Filling a tank costs several hundred dollars, Diesel fuel costs have outstripped the price of unleaded and trucks with a big engine and heavy load won’t get the same gas mileage as the family van. While some of the added cost can be passed along in shipping fees, it may not be enough to defray the cost of maintenance and increased regulations, making it more difficult to make ends meet.
Shippers try different things to control costs. This may include loading trucks and containers with more goods than they used to. It’s not unusual to see a 20-foot container hauling 40,000 or 50,000 pounds in goods, with 40-foot containers and 53-foot trailers carrying much more than that. Shippers will occasionally double up on a load, putting two 20-foot containers on a 40-foot chassis and treating it as one load.
A tight economy brings less demand for shipped goods. Consumers spend less across the board. Luxury items such as luxury cars won’t find as great a market as they enjoyed during good times. To the trucking industry, this means fewer loads circulating.
Speed becomes more important as truckers find they have to beat other drivers to their loads. Faster becomes better, and haulers may drive too fast for conditions because of the competition. Trucks hauling a 50,000 pound container is hard to stop or slow down, so that’s a safety hazard in itself. Because of the high cost for parts, a trucker may defer some maintenance and run with bald tires or inadequate brakes.
Truck driving in this economy is a great career choice for anyone looking to start a new job. For more information about what THC Global Inc. can do for you, contact us today.