The trucking industry is one of the most integral parts of the United States economy. So many of the goods that we consume and enjoy every day are transported to us by trucks. Without the trucking industry, the entire economy would collapse.
Like many industries, trucking was hurt badly by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. However, now that the economy is slowly recovering, prospects are brighter for this industry as well. Of course, there will still be some challenges that persist in 2021. This article will go over expected trends and trucking industry data for 2021.
Increased Freight Activity
As the vaccine becomes more widely available and more communities begin to open their doors, the economy will pick up again. In-person shopping will start to grow in popularity again, and stores will need to replenish their inventory. This process will be the primary focus for retailers for several months as reopening rolls out across the country. At the same time, online shopping is not going anywhere. People have grown accustomed to shopping in the comfort of their homes, so trucking activity from online shopping is unlikely to decrease significantly once reopening plans are in place. As a result, FTR Transportation Intelligence estimates that truck freight will grow six percent in 2021, a high rate compared to previous years. This increase is excellent news for the trucking industry, and even further growth is expected for 2022.
The trucking industry has been facing a driver shortage for years, and it has been steadily getting worse. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, as many drivers do not want to work unless they are vaccinated. This part of the problem should be alleviated as the vaccine rollout completes its course, but the driver shortage as a whole will persist. Currently, many older truck drivers are retiring, and fewer young people want to take their places.
With the expected growth of truck freight in the next year, there will be many new trucking jobs opening up in the next couple of years. Truck Driver Training estimates that the industry will be short 105,000 drivers by the year 2023. This shortage is of serious concern, as so much of our economy relies on trucks. The industry will need to find new ways to incentivize drivers to take on the job, such as shorter hours or higher pay.
One of the highest costs for a fleet company is fuel, and fuel costs are on the rise across the country. In the first three months of 2021, fuel prices increased by more than 50 cents per gallon. This price hike is why fleets are looking for innovative ways to minimize fuel consumption. Many are investing in alternative fuel or fuel-efficient vehicles to save money in the long run. They may also harness fleet management software to track fuel consumption, optimize routes, and monitor telematics so they can find ways to reduce fuel costs wherever possible. Fleet management software can create reports that show where vehicles use the most fuel, making it easier to try and cut these costs.
Increase in “Smart Trucks”
Technology is taking over the trucking industry. Fleet management software is taking over most of the day-to-day operations of a fleet. Managers can track trucks, routes, jobs, telematics, and other data from the office, without contacting the driver. This software is a necessity for any modern fleet business and significantly improves productivity. Furthermore, “smart trucks” are increasing the safety and efficiency of fleets all over the country. Technology helps drivers stay in their lanes, brake in time to avoid collisions, and turn on cruise control so they can maintain a steady speed. Safety features such as dash cams are becoming more commonplace, and artificial intelligence helps detect distracted or drowsy driving. Monitoring this allows managers to be sure their drivers are alert and engaging in safe behaviors at all times when they’re operating their vehicles.
Trucking Industry Data
- Trucks carry more than 70% of all goods transported in the United States.
- Grocery stores rely on truck drivers. Without truck drivers, grocery stores would run out of food within three days.
- There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, making it one of the most common jobs in the country.
- The United States has the highest GDP in the world from the trucking industry.
- Trucks move over 10 billion tons of freight every year.
The trucking industry has changed significantly in the last couple of years, but it is still a vital part of the backbone of the American economy. Our everyday lives rely on truckers and fleets getting their jobs done effectively. Azuga offers technology to keep up with the changing trucking industry. Fleet management software, asset tracking, and dash cams help fleet managers stay on top of their fleets with the latest technology. Reach out to Azuga today to discuss your options to optimize your fleet’s efficiency.