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ATA president calls on industry to focus on solving future challenges

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Ata president calls on industry to focus on solving future challenges
In his president’s address at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear cited new work to be done in the arenas of tort reform and the industry’s response to a number of states legalizing marijuana for recreational use. (The Trucker file photo)

SAN DIEGO — American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear Monday urged the federation to work together, and with anyone who is willing to work with trucking, to continue shaping a strong, positive future for the industry.

“As an association that puts its members, industry and country first, we must always adhere to the value of working with anyone willing to work with us. Since becoming your president and CEO, ATA’s focus on your priorities has been relentless, posting key wins from federal tax reform to the preemption of California’s duplicative meal and rest break requirements,” Spear said during the president’s address at the ATA’s 86th Management Conference & Exhibition. “These results contribute to a growth environment.”

Working with lawmakers and officials from both sides of the political divide, as well as with the many parts of an industry as diverse as trucking is critical to achieving success on behalf of the industry.

“The fact is, the relationships ATA has with the House and Senate — and both governing parties — are real, strategic and impactful,” he said. “The right wing and left wing belong to the same bird. And as an association that puts its members, industry and country first, we must always adhere to the value of working with anyone willing to work with us. We do that and we soar.”

In looking ahead, Spear said it was crucial to trucking, in addition to continuing to make progress key issues like trade and infrastructure, to address looming challenges now like the driver shortage, tort reform and relaxation of laws surrounding recreational marijuana, so ATA can shape solutions that benefit the industry.

On the shortage, Spear said ignoring or denying the existence of the shortage is not an option, and there are a number of potential solutions including allowing younger drivers to obtain a commercial license with improved oversight and safety training, working to improve access to affordable health care and wellness programs that keep our employees healthy and recruiting drivers from underrepresented and nontraditional demographics.

“Let me be clear, poaching talent from other carriers is not a sustainable growth strategy,” he said.

Spear also cited new work to be done in the arenas of tort reform and the industry’s response to a number of states legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

“Eleven states, D.C. and Canada have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana, all while our federal government turns a blind eye. You can just see the trial lawyers — sitting on the edge of their high, wing-back leather chairs — drooling over the thought of more legal ambiguity,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and hand them yet another opportunity to litigate our industry. That’s why we’re announcing the first meeting of ATA’s new Controlled Substances, Health and Wellness Subcommittee here in San Diego. We need a member-led policy platform that helps lawmakers, regulators and courts make informed decisions about the impact substance abuse is having on safety and interstate commerce.”

Those decisions, he said, should include moving forward on completing the federal clearinghouse of drug and alcohol test results, hair follicle testing and research into a roadside test for impairment from marijuana.

Finally, Spear told ATA’s members that the federation was making “tort reform a tier one priority at the state and federal level.”

“We will continue to grow the ATA Litigation Center and increase the number of lawsuits. And we will back our state association executives that pursue ballot initiatives – going state-to-state to fight… until we have won,” he said.

 

 

 

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.3% in 2019

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Ata truck tonnage index increased 3.3% in 2019
After falling 3.4% in November 2019, the Truck Tonnage Index recovered in December, posting a 4% monthly increase. (courtesy: ATA)

ARLINGTON, Vir. — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.3% in 2019, about half the annual gain in 2018 (6.7%). The increase was the tenth consecutive year in which the tonnage index has risen above the previous year.
The advanced SA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 4% in December after falling 3.4% in November. In December, the index equaled 118.2 (2015=100) compared with 113.6 in November.
“Last year was not a terrible year for for-hire truck tonnage, and despite the increase at the end of the year, 2019 was very uneven for the industry,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The overall annual gain masks the very choppy freight environment throughout the year, which made the market feel worse for many fleets. In December, strong housing starts helped advance the index forward.” It is important to note that ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight.
November’s reading was revised down slightly compared with the December 2019 data. In December 2018, the SA index rose 3%, which was preceded by a 2% year-over-year drop in November.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage hauled by the fleets before seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.7 in December, 2% below the November level (115.1). In calculating the index, 100 represents the index from 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Rates slip amid strong holiday freight

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Act research for-hire trucking index: rates slip amid strong holiday freight
For-hire index rates slip, but signs of freight recovery in 2020 "encouraging" (©2020 FOTOSEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. – The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index showed improvement in for-hire freight volumes and utilization. The data used in the Index included December. Respectively, the data indicated 55.5 and 52.3 diffusion index readings, both up four points from November on a seasonally adjusted basis. But even as for-hire capacity contracted again, the Freight Rates Index slid to 48.7 in December.
The ACT For-Hire Trucking Index is a monthly survey of for-hire trucking service providers. ACT Research converts responses into diffusion indexes, where the neutral or flat level is 50.
Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s Vice President and Senior Analyst commented, “We see encouraging signs that the freight downturn is in its late stages and the market will rebalance in 2020. However, the ongoing rate pressure, even as volumes ramped into the holidays, is symptomatic of ongoing excess industry capacity. Our survey respondents clearly get it, and reduced capacity for a sixth straight month, so we can pretty easily deduce that private fleet capacity additions through year-end 2019 are the main factor continuing to pressure for-hire rates.”
The ACT Freight Forecast provides forecasts for the direction of truck volumes and contract rates quarterly through 2020, with three years of annual forecasts for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry. For the truckload spot market, the report provides forecasts for the next twelve months.
In 2019, the average accuracy of ACT’s truckload spot rate forecasts was 98%. The ACT Research Freight Forecast uses equipment capacity modeling and the firm’s economics expertise to provide anticipated freight rates, helping businesses in transportation and logistics management plan with confidence.

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2019 trading performance ended on a sour note for transportation companies

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For major shippers, 2019 ended on a sour note; transportation companies have worst trading performance across market.
Transportation companies are showing the worst performance across the market and trading. Shares in railroad, trucking and ocean shipping companies are selling off. (Courtesy: FotoSearch)

For major shipping companies dealing with trade wars and slowing global growth, conditions appear to have deteriorated as 2019 came to a close.

Transportation companies are the worst performers across the market in trading. Shares in trucking, railroad and ocean shipping companies are selling off.

The trade war between the U.S. and China has taken a toll. Government data showed Friday that China’s economy grew by 6.1% last year, down from 6.6% in 2018, and a multi-decade low. The Trump administration has agreed to cancel planned tariff hikes on additional Chinese imports as part of an interim deal announced this week, and Beijing promised to buy more American farm goods.

Punitive duties already imposed by both sides, however, will stay in place.

JB Hunt Transport Services Inc., a trucking company, on Friday reported profits that fell well short of what industry analysts had expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Shares in that company are down 2.7%.

FedEx reported last month that its profit slid 40%, hurt by higher costs, a shorter holiday season and its move to cut ties with Amazon.com. It too, cut its profit expectations.

UPS reports fourth quarter and full year results at the end of the month. Its shares have been falling over the past month and were down in trading as of Friday.

Global shipping and logistics provider Expeditors International said Friday that it expects fourth quarter operating income to fall between $177 million and $183 million.

CEO Jeffrey Musser cited trade disputes and slowing growth for a number of economies. The report comes a day after the railroad CSX reported a 7% decline in the freight it hauled during the final months of the year.

“We’ve seen impacts throughout the year from these market conditions, but the pace at which these changes occurred accelerated dramatically in the fourth quarter,” Musser said. “We know this environment will change over time, as it always has in the past.”

Shares of Expeditors International of Washington Inc., based in Seattle, slumped almost 5%.

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