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Safety Series: Awareness, anticipation of 4-wheel drivers can help keep truckers safe



Safety series: awareness and anticipation of four-wheel drivers can help keep truckers safe
Nearly every driver has been trained in defensive driving techniques at some point and knows the importance of watching out for the actions of others. (Courtesy: FotoSearch)

You know it’s coming. It may be in the next mile or a few hours down the road, but it will happen. Somebody is going to do something stupid. It might be a sudden lane change, disobeying a traffic signal or sign, checking text messages on a cell phone or any of dozens of errors in judgment that the professional driver observes from other motorists every day. But it will happen.

Nearly every driver has been trained in defensive driving techniques at some point and knows the importance of watching out for the actions of others. Some carriers and insurance companies, however, are teaching drivers to go beyond “defensive” driving. They encourage professional drivers to drive in a manner that protects others, too.

Why should a professional driver care about protecting other motorists? Those four-wheelers can be really annoying when they’re not being downright dangerous. But consider who is driving those four-wheelers. Someone’s wife, father, child or loved one is behind the wheel. Back home, it could be YOUR loved one behind the wheel of another four-wheeler. Would you appreciate another truck driver watching out for your loved ones, even when those loved ones make driving mistakes?

Then consider that professional drivers have much more training and experience than the average motorist. You may think of hazards and take action to avoid them much sooner than the average motorist, who may not recognize a hazard at all until it’s too late.

So, how do you “protect” someone driving in another vehicle? One way is to avoid making assumptions about how they’ll react to a hazard. Consider an intersection with traffic lights. Your light just turned green, so you know that the light for cross traffic is now red. They’ll stop, right? By making sure before you pull into the intersection, you can avoid a crash with someone who didn’t see, or didn’t obey, the traffic signal. Sure, it might have been some jerk running the light, but it could have been a young woman distracted by a crying baby, too.

Another example is the left turn at an intersection. Make sure there’s enough time for your trailer to fully clear the intersection before oncoming traffic arrives. When you’re starting from a stop, it could take 20 seconds or longer for your trailer to fully clear. It’s tempting to assume that oncoming drivers will see your big truck and slow down or stop – but what if they don’t?

Lane changes are sometimes necessary, but who hasn’t seen a driver trying to gain time by weaving from lane to lane? Consider how other vehicles will react to your lane change. Others may now change lanes, and speed, in an effort to get around you. Each lane change is another opportunity for a crash to occur.

Even an action like blowing the air horn could startle an unsuspecting motorist, causing them to steer suddenly.

The dangers of using phones to call, text and surf the Internet while driving are well known, yet motorists are seen doing those things all of the time. That includes, unfortunately, some truck drivers, too. Make it a rule never to use yours while driving, unless you have a hands-free option. Even then, taking your eyes off the road for a second to see who’s calling can lead to an accident. A policy of waiting until you are stopped to return calls or texts is the right way to do things. Make sure friends and relatives know that you’ll chose safety over quick communication.

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.3% in 2019



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



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



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 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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