I have been reading numerous stories about the lack of truck parking, electronic on-board recorders possibly being mandatory in trucks, freight rates possibly dropping, and the costs of trucks increasing with the constantly changing EPA regulations in concert with CARB.
There is one thing to say to these observations and that is: Now is the time to get into trucking because where there is turmoil, there is opportunity. Trucking companies are having a hard time bringing in new trainees and retaining the operators they already have because the existing drivers or potential drivers are either leaving trucking or not coming into the industry at all.
Historically, trucking has been a simple prospect - a load is picked up and delivered, money changes hands, and it’s done. Now, however, truckers are faced with CSA, EOBR/ELD’s, CARB, EPA, and the FMCSA’s changes to the HOS. This is scaring most drivers away and simply pushing other drivers out. No one is immune to the impact of all of these programs and administrations coming together at once to revolutionize the industry.
There is a catch though, one learned in basic economics class; supply and demand are still in play here. The supply chain of the USA, Canada, and Mexico, like all countries in the world, cannot be disrupted or there will be chaos. People rely on trucking without knowing it. Trucking is taken for granted every day and so are truckers. Without them, the system collapses. The administration’s goal is to craft legislation that fixes proposed problems without disrupting the supply chain.
Owner-operators make-up 80 percent of the trucking industry, leaving large trucking companies to only make up the remaining 20 percent. While there is talk from various trucking media outlets that large trucking companies will end up with 80 percent of the freight, this has no basis in reality and is a pipe dream that large trucking companies would love to see happen. As an owner-operator, you are the competition and it is in the large trucking company’s interest to see you put out of business.
Unfortunately for the large trucking companies, no matter how much they wish they could fill all of the capacity shippers demand, they never have. Based on this fact, it’s reasonable to believe they never will. The door will remain open for owner-operators or a small fleet to come in and work with the shippers. This is how the free enterprise system works. Historically, when the price of fuel fluctuates, so do freight rates. For example, when the price of fuel jumped from $1.00 per gallon to $3.00 per gallon in the early 2000s, the freight rates jumped from an average of $1.00 per mile to $2.00 per mile. As you can see, that fuel increase led to a 100% jump in freight rates.
This will continue to be the trend considering CARB regulations, the recent HOS changes mixed with the CSA implementation. With the industry facing more hoops to jump through, the rates will continue to be in flux until some stability is realized in the freight marketplace. From what I see, that stability isn’t going to happen for years. Now is the time to get in the owner’s seat and start driving your own business.
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