We are experiencing a market with low truck supply and high freight demand. One of the reasons for tightened capacity is the ongoing driver shortage. Year after year, older drivers are retiring with fewer younger drivers taking their places. The work is difficult—it involves working long hours, driving long distances, being away from family for long periods of time and less-than-ideal pay. Fewer drivers mean fewer trucks on the road to haul this increase in freight, which, in turn, drives up the rates because of the premium placed on securing a truck. It was a good year for the U.S. economy, and this additional freight volume combined with two major hurricanes diverting resources also greatly impacted the ability to secure trucks.
Another factor that is impacting capacity is increased government regulations such as the electronic logging devices mandate which began on December 18. The ELD mandate essentially requires all motor carriers to install electronic devices in their trucks that will automatically track drivers’ hours of service.
By law, drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours with a mandatory, continuous rest period of 10 hours, daily. Prior to the mandate, most (but definitely not all) drivers kept manual log books to track their hours of service, while some of the larger carriers already had ELDs. Most smaller carriers have become compliant, but some are having issues with the cost of installing the devices and even more dislike the automatic tracking of their movements. Regulations such as these are implemented with the intention of creating safer roads, however, they are also perceived by drivers as an infringement on their personal space—as many consider their trucks to be a home away from home in addition to a workspace.
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